Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Kagan McLeod
Chip Zdarsky certainly has been making a name for himself lately. While he is most popular for his art in “Sex Criminals,” he is proving to be a talented writer as well. He stepped into the Marvel Universe with his short bit on “Original Sins,” then began writing “Howard the Duck.” The latter has become quite popular already, showing just how flexible the creator actually is. Kaptara #1 is Zdarsky’s latest work and is his first major creator-owned series as a writer, with Kagan McLeod as the artist.
Kaptara #1 has been described by Zdarsky as “Gay Saga.” It’s a science-fiction story in space featuring some interesting characters and wild designs. Keith, the main character is the “planet guy” of the crew. He’s established as the main scientist onboard a shuttle full of people who are way cooler than he is. Zdarsky’s characters vary, and while some fit certain archetypes, none come off as boring or cliché.
The story itself feels fresh and moves along at a leisurely pace. At no point does it feel rushed and at no point do the events feel forced. The biggest weakness of the story is that it doesn’t seem to do much that we haven’t seen before. It feels like the same old story with a different coat of pant. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Chip Zdarsky book without the jokes. Every bit of comedy succeeds, making this title feel fresh enough to warrant a read. The characters have natural dialogue, and every joke comes out organically. While these characters are placed into some wild situations, nothing comes off as over the top either.
Kagan McLeod’s art is fantastic throughout the issue. The environments are clearly the brightest parts of the art. The planet that Keith finds himself on is full of vibrant colors with lush life. McLeod was made for science fiction. The ship looks clean with subtle grays and fancy machinery. The characters all appear expressive, with eyes that tell stories by themselves. There are quite a few panels without dialogue, and none of them feel empty due to the great amount of detail in the action.
As far as design choices go, I’m impressed by the diversity of the characters. For one, not too many high-profile series have a gay lead that isn’t white, but Keith is. The issue is full of diversity in gender, race, and sexual orientation, and all of the characters also feel real. Zdarsky and McLeod deserve praise for the design choices they have made, because it’s not often that we see different demographics represented in this medium.