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‘Canto Volume 1: If I Only Had a Heart’ – Hardcover Review

On one level, Canto is a retelling of The Wizard of Oz. It’s much more than that, though, and goes much deeper. It takes the elements of the story of Dorothy and company on the yellow brick road and molds them into something very different and wholly unique.

When the tin people are born, their hearts are removed by the Slavers and replaced with clocks. They are forbidden to love, forbidden to care for one another, forbidden even to have names. They are only meant to work, to do the Slavers’ every bidding. But one of the tin people does dare to love another, and the one he loves dares to give him a name—Canto.

When Canto’s love’s clock is damaged, the only way to save her is to replace it with her real heart. So, Canto goes on a quest to find it: a quest which leads him to the Emerald Tower (which does, indeed, lie at the end of a yellow brick road). Along the way, he meets a number of interesting and unexpected characters who help him along his journey, as well as a few monsters who try to hinder him. But the real challenge is determining which is which.

The Wizard of Oz parallels are just a framework—a jumping-off point to explore a host of other themes and concepts. Themes like the stories we tell each other, what they really mean, and the impact they have (#StoriesMatter). Or what true bravery really looks like (or true love, or true sacrifice). And of course, the ever-present reminder that things are often not what they seem, and a simple change in perspective could change your whole world.

I really enjoyed this comic. It draws you in right from the start and keeps you on your toes, never quite knowing what’s coming next. And the world is fascinating: very detailed and worth exploring. I’m not quite sure how I feel about the ending. No spoilers, but it felt a little rushed to me. I get what the creators were trying to do, but I’m not sure it succeeds.

But of course, this isn’t actually the ending. While the story does form a complete arc, this is only volume 1. According to the backmatter, there are four other volumes planned. And it’s clear there’s plenty more world to explore in those volumes, too.

All in all, this comic is quite a journey and one worth taking. I look forward to seeing what this creators have in store next.

Creative Team: David M. Booher (writer, created by), Drew Zucker (art, created by), Vittorio Astone (colors), Andworld Design (letters)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Click here to purchase.

Steven W. Alloway, Fanbase Press Contributor



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