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‘Cosmic VII and the Chronicles of Opus:’ Graphic Novel Review

Cosmic VII and the Chronicles of Opus is a mixed bag. On the one hand, there are some truly interesting choices in the panel work. On the other hand, the book is far too long, with a number of redundant images, which are often cluttered with needless dialogue. The imbalance is curious because the style is minimalist throughout (e.g., fluid outlines covered in flowing garments set against empty backgrounds). The effect is startling, but only for short stretches. From time to time, the artwork undergoes a significant flourish. Real images are substituted for sketches, color scheme inversions come and go, and well-executed action sequences take the reader’s mind off the looming void behind each and every face. These moments are arresting and compel interest in the book; however, they also function as something of an oasis by contrast, usually one that is set in the middle of a long, chatty spell of inactive characters. The book tries to drive interest in such static moments with multi-perspective shots of what are essentially immobile people.

The dialogue would be fine if it was a bit more energetic. There are only so many times you can read “yeah” or “okay” before you become, frankly, displeased. It is unfortunate, because the milieu of the narrative is somewhat captivating. It has an Aeon Flux meets Snow Crash feel — but with a hipster twist that undercuts the impending sense of doom in those earlier works. It should be commended for this. On the whole, the book feels like the culmination of an art school undergraduate degree: here, we find a broad and not entirely managed catalogue of styles and techniques for sequential art — but there is no overarching editorial presence that ensures or otherwise mediates the reader’s experience. The book is clearly talking to itself at the moment.

However, while there are serious issues, the book is on the whole a worthwhile effort, and I would recommend it to any reader who is interested in new or emerging talents. There is clearly an artistic vision behind Cosmic, and there is a sense that this vision will become more focused, and perhaps even exciting to a massive audience over time. The creative forces here could be picked up by a larger house, perhaps, and set to work realizing an established or developing property. Clearly, the artistry is competitive and is rendered with a keen and talented eye.

A broader view of the book as an object of science fiction raises some interesting questions. The future world presented in this document is one of pleasure and entertainment, where artists live and struggle with many of the concerns that define present-day life in the early twenty-first century. These aspects of the text are interesting, but I walked away from this book not knowing for certain if science fiction was the correct genre for the story the author wanted to tell. In the end, it’s a work about relationships, and the science fiction elements felt rather extraneous. The genre choice, like many of the other artistic choices, conveys a sense that the artist is still playing around with storytelling tools and is not yet at a point where the justifications for the choices are self-evident. The document can be recommended for a niche audience, and for classes focused on artistic techniques for sequential art.




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