Image Comics has gone through a lot in the last several years, and their increased popularity and willingness to take risks have resulted in a major resurgence in creator-owned comics. And, if there’s one thing that creators have proven during this indie creator boom it’s this: Comic book creators are super weird, and the books they come up with are even stranger.
Take Kaptara, for instance. Never before (and likely never again) will there be a sci-fi space book featuring Cat Tanks, a Motivational Orb, and a character called Cyklowl, who is, of course, a one-eyed owl. The above were just a few of the ridiculous and wonderful characters that inhabit the world of Kaptara, a book so silly that it’s a wonder it ever got made.
Written by superstar writer/artist Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals, Howard The Duck, That Thing with Applebee’s on Facebook) and illustrated by the brilliant Kagan McLeod (Infinite Kung-Fu), this is a series that has to be seen to be believed. Thankfully, that’s something that can be accomplished pretty easily with this, the first trade paperback of the series that gives five glorious issues of the insane space adventures of Keith Kanga, scientist and coward extraordinaire.
The journey of Keith is one of anxiety, tension, and bad jokes as he awkwardly flails through the new world he finds himself on after his ship crashes onto a strange and dangerous planet filled with the weird, the murderous, and the naked. Sometimes, all three exist at once.
Zdarsky is one of the funniest people working in the industry today and one of the funniest Canadians to be writing under a pseudonym. (I still refuse to believe Alan Thicke is the name of a real person.) His partnership with McLeod has allowed that humor and silliness to devolve into a frenzy of esoteric insanity that is one of the most wonderful and mind-boggling things I’ve ever read. The jokes are terrific, especially those who feel added on to conversations. The casual mannerisms of the dialogue make it really entertaining, especially in the book’s more stressful situations, where nearly groan-worthy jokes are always worth a genuine laugh. Also, the story’s pretty good, so there’s that.
The real superstar of this series, though, is McLeod. (Sorry, Chip.) While they are absolute collaborators on the story, the creative character design is what makes this book really shine. To illustrate that, I suggest everyone go and get this trade and flip to the back (or look at it after reading the issues, I guess) to see the rogues of the planet of Kaptara, all of whom are as ridiculous as they are awesome. A personal favorite is Brute Punch, a Kool-Aid Man-like pitcher filled with acid blood.
Also, there are Cat Tanks. I mentioned that, didn’t I? Well, there are. Cat Tanks. There are Cat Tanks, and that alone makes this book worth it. Read this and bask in its insane glory.