Monday, 10 November 2014

Shutter, Volume 1: Wanderlost Review (Joe Keatinge, Leila del Duca)

I suppose it had to happen - with the success of Saga, imitators have begun popping up, with Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca’s Shutter being one such example. 

A magical world where giant eagles and dragons, minotaurs and kids with horns, flying cars and saucer police, Scotch lions and gorilla doctors, dinosaurs and a talking platypus, are all de rigeur; a strong female character and a child, together with a talking cat sidekick, on the run from forces who want them caught, including a male and female bounty hunter. All of this sound familiar to Saga readers? This is Shutter. 

Kate Kristopher was a child Indiana Jones but, for some reason (probably due to her father’s untimely death), she’s hung up the adventuring gear and settled into a quiet civilian life. Then on her 27th birthday some purple glowy ninjas try to kill her and she realises her quiet life is over, as well as finding out that she’s not an only child. And her newly discovered siblings? They’re kinda assholes. 

Besides the derivative Saga flavour, Shutter suffers from a similar problem of Saga’s: the lack of any real story. Kate basically meanders through a storyline that’s unclear most of the time. What does she do for a living now that her exploring days are done, why is this series called Shutter and has her posing on the cover with a camera when it’s not at all referenced in the book, who’re the antagonists and why is she so important anyway; who knows?

Kate’s character is Generic Strong Female Lead, the kind that, if you’ve read a lot of contemporary comics, you’ll instantly recognise. That’s not to say that she doesn’t sound like a 27 year old woman - she does - but she lacks a distinct personality from the sea of other clones out there. 

Keatinge tries glossing over all of that by stuffing the aforementioned oddities and more into the panels, as if seeing talking mythical creatures makes up for a lack of a driving story or involving dialogue, except it fails. It’s much too obvious.

On the other hand, del Duca’s artwork is simply stunning, helped by Manifest Destiny’s colourist Owen Gieni, and while I was puzzled as to why this world had to be quite so random, I was glad for it if only to see del Duca draw it all so skilfully and beautifully. Where Keatinge’s script doesn’t engage, del Duca’s artwork was there to pick up the slack. 

This first Shutter volume establishes a tone but little else besides. None of the characters are particularly interesting or original, in terms of personality. Kate’s quest is unknown, the point of the series itself, including the title, is difficult to discern, and it seems to be a celebration of haphazard arbitrariness more than anything. Perhaps fans of Saga might enjoy this - perhaps - with the caveat that it’s not as good; otherwise, I’d skip this one.

Shutter Volume 1: Wanderlost

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