Chip Zdarsky, Kagan McLeod
::: Wipes forehead in relief:: Phew, almost went 3 weeks without mentioning a comic written by Chip Zdarsky. Glad I put a stop to that!
2015 was the year Chip Zdarsky went from being Matt Fraction’s chum who drew Sex Criminals, to Chip Zdarsky, Matt Fraction’s chum who draws Sex Criminals as well as plethora of covers, writes Howard the Duck for Marvel, as well as Jughead for Archie. It was the year that saw Zdarsky grow as writer, not just as artist and a guy who favorites a bunch of stuff I say on social media. And while his work for hire stuff is great, those books didn’t get to show off the Zdarsky brand like Kaptara does.
Kapata, drawn by Kagan McLeod, was original sold as “Gay Saga” when it was first hitting the stands/being marketed. In reality it’s “Intentionally Gay Masters of the Universe”, which is something I think is fantastic. It stars Keith Kanga, a scientist who’s ship crash lands on the planet Kaptara, and find out that the Earth is in grave danger. However, Keith isn’t sure if he wants to actually return to Earth, or continue to live among his new acquaintances.
In my defense, art aside, the first issue of the series wasn’t as strong as Chip’s debut on Howard or Jughead. I decided to wait for the trade, which turned out to be my prefered method of reading Kaptara. Once the initial cast/naked shape shifting wizard is introduced, and the plot is establsihed, the book begins to take off, mixing Zdarsky’s trademark humor with some gorgeous work from McLeod.
Kagan’s work on this book is stunning, managing to recreate the Kirby meets Robert E Howard look of He-Man, only taking it to the extreme. McLeod creates such interesting visuals as a Smurf-like race of Mushroom people who are the actual worst, Cat Tanks, oh and like 50 new characters all with names and M.O.s in the span of 2 pages. McLeod is artistic tour de force, and Kaptara’s all the richer for having him attached to the book. His pages are filled with lush colors and wonderfully bizarre characters and setting. McLeod was absolutely stunning on Infinite Kung Fu, and he’s equally wonderful on this book.
I’ve sung Chip’s praises as a writer plenty of times before, but with Kaptara, we get to see his skills as a writer that are more in the vein of Sex Criminals than his work for hire, as he and Kagan have created everything from the ground up. Like I said earlier, the book suffers a little bit early as the cast/plot is established, but once Keith lands on Kaptara, the book really takes off. We get to see Zdarsky’s trademark brand of humor mesh with some interesting character building, letting us see a different side of Chip’s skill sets. It’s some solid work, and shows just how talented Zdarsky is as a writer.
Kaptara Volume 1 includes the first fives issues of the series, a cover gallery, breakdown of the final 2 pages of issue 5 (this will make sense once you read it!), and autobiography/tale of sexual conquest by Dartor (Prince of Endom!), really making this $9.98 (Chip will NOT be undersold!) package all the more attractive. Overall, Kaptara is a really charming book, well charming for a sci-fi fantasy comedy adventure book with sexist Mushroom folk. I know Image isn’t exactly short on comedy books OR sci-fi comics, but between Kagan McLeod’s psydelic visuals, and Zdarsky’s witty dialogue, Kaptara is a book worth checking out if you haven’t yet.