Review – Canto #2 (IDW Publishing)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: David. M. Booher
Artwork: Drew Zucker
Colours: Vittorio Astone
Letters: Deron Bennett
Release Date: 24th July 2019

Oh boy, here we go again. After the emotional ride of the debut issue , can Canto keep up the heady blend of heartstring tugging, mind spinning visuals? For the most part, that’s pretty much a yes. In my review of Canto #1 I gushed over the design and delivery of this familiar but altogether new fantasy epic. So, strapping myself in for more of the same, I dived into and devoured this follow up issue.

There’s no recap or direct follow-on to open here. Instead we have a wonderfully crafted parallel. Before the knight, there was a boy. This boy had grandiose ideas of castles and dragons and princesses, and, of course, adventure. Where the boy sneaks around the castle grounds in fairy tale illustrations, we see Canto through a mirror… darkly. Instead of sleepy palace guards and footmen, Canto must contend with threatening, monstrous beastmen. The similarity in story is eerily narrated, building to a striking splash and haunting line, with the choice of words subtly and cleverly allowing for different interpretations depending on your point of view.

From this we hurtle (or maybe stumble is more appropriate) into pages of full-on action. It’s a jolting change of pace that I thought might destabilise what had been delicately crafted. Instead, some visual storytelling after the fallout helps to better portray the development of a kinship in ways that words would perhaps struggle with. This approach continues throughout with some gorgeous world building. Threat and wonder in equal measure are heaped into every panel, but never overwhelmingly or to the reader’s detriment. From fallen giants to storm racked mountains, there’s terrible beauty to behold.

Subversion of expectation is a bit of a buzz phrase at the moment but this issue managed to catch me off guard yet again. You know something is good when you go back and read it again almost straight away (and not because you weren’t able to follow it first-time round). If anything, I would be critical of how the pacing shift in the action makes this feel like a somewhat shorter read overall. In my excitement, I no doubt rushed through on first reading but savoured every panel with the second. This is a series you don’t want to miss.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster

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