Canto, Vol. 1: If I Only Had a Heart

David M. Booher and Drew Zucker. IDW, $19.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-68405-621-7
“Live in a cage long enough,” opines a character in this high-minded but thinly plotted allegorical fantasy, “you no longer see the bars.” In the ravaged land of Arcana, a diminutive, puppy-eyed humanoid in medieval armor, Canto (defiantly named despite a rule against individual identity), toils under slavery with the rest of his people, whose hearts have been replaced with clockwork. Inspired by the legend of a heroic knight, Canto escapes and sets out on a quest to find the missing heart of the humanoid girl who gave him his forbidden name, which leads him to a villain called the Shrouded Man and the uncovering of secrets about who controls his world. The dense storybook art, drawn in thick, bold lines and saturated in bright colors, lays out old-fashioned fantasy landscapes crawling with magical creatures: giants, tiny dragons, shrieking Furies, and ferocious feline monsters called Malorex. But the character designs have a juvenile look, and the busy page layouts sometimes feel showy at the expense of storytelling. Likewise, the narrative works in some clever ideas but pushes too hard on predictable moral lessons, giving the characters no room to breathe. The resulting tale, with all its familiar Oz-and-others references, never escapes its own boundaries despite its moments of beauty. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/30/2020
Release date: 03/31/2020
Genre: Comics
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