cover image The Annotated Northwest Passage

The Annotated Northwest Passage

Scott Chantler, . . Oni, $19.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-932664-61-4

While being hyped as the greatest Canadian western comic book ever may sound like faint praise indeed, in the case of Chantler's thrilling historical adventure, it definitely is not. Categorized as young adult historical fiction, the book is a James Fenimore Cooper–styled thriller set in remote Rupert's Land, circa 1755. Fort Newcastle, an English-run trading post commanded by the stout-hearted hero Charles Lord, is overrun in a vicious sneak attack by French mercenaries looking to get rich off the fur trade. Lord and the survivors of the massacre wander the wilderness, looking for allies and plotting their revenge, while inside the captured fort, the villainous Guerin Montglave plots evil deeds. Chantler's sharp black and white artwork (replete with dramatic closeups and muscular action choreography) has a welcome precision to it, while the writing has a pulp immediacy (“ 'T'ought you could 'ide, English dog?' ”) which brings history to life. This collected edition of the three-issue original comes with copious and welcome annotations at the back, where Chantler discusses various plot points and historical references as well as the different styles used from one frame to the next (including one he calls his “Frank Miller shot”). (June)