Monday, 20 March 2017

Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa Review

A farmer, his wife and their young son live an idyllic life on their farm in the country. Until one day three ominous horsemen appear in the hills, getting closer to the house every day. They’ve come for the boy. So begins a desperate game of cat and mouse as the farmer tries to save his son from his fate, running from the horsemen across land and sea - but can anyone outrun Death?

Cyril Pedrosa’s Three Shadows is a decent but flawed comic. The story takes a while to get going but once the father and son hit the road and run from the eerie Nazgul-esque horsemen, it gets exciting. In a weirdly synchronous way, once they make it aboard the ship and stop running, the narrative also runs out of momentum and stagnates. Then the whole thing goes completely off the rails in the final act with Pedrosa switching perspectives and pursuing a strange tangent before returning to conclude the main storyline with the farmer. 

The book comes from a place of real heart, inspired by Pedrosa’s close friends’ watching their child die very young, but he can’t really sustain a 270 page book out of that difficult concept. The father and son run from the horsemen - and that’s it really. Sure, other things happen but I wouldn’t say they were that interesting or added to the overall theme and could’ve easily been lost with no effect to the story. Pedrosa definitely puts across the intensity of the father’s will to save his son really powerfully though - you believe he’ll do anything to save him. 

I enjoyed the art the most. Pedrosa is a former Disney animator and the skill is right there to see on the page. The characters’ movements are perfectly captured and fluid and his range is exceptional from the natural beauty of the countryside to the city to the crowded docks, the boat, and everything after and in between. It’s black and white and done almost sketch-style (as you might expect from a former animator) in pencils, inks and charcoal and it’s really impressive.

If it were shorter and more focused, Three Shadows might be a better book. As it is, it’s not bad though Pedrosa has to pad the thin story with a lot of unnecessary subplots to keep the reader engaged. And that final act was a helluva mess - at a crucial point in the story, instead of feeling the emotion of the characters I was puzzled as to what was happening! In the end, Three Shadows is an ok allegorical fantasy adventure with just a few too many narrative problems to keep it from being great.

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