Publish date: June 19, 2013 Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
My mind is still trying to wrap itself around this 496 page epic display of cartoon storytelling. Crater XV is an experience unlike any I have ever had while reading a comic. With many (and I mean MANY) storylines interweaving so delicately with one another, Crater XV makes you chuckle, cackle, and almost cry. Kevin Cannon tells a ridiculous tale that when said aloud, makes even less sense than while reading it.
Crater XV takes place in the arctic regions of Canada and stars a laundry list of characters, most notable being the arctic pirate, Army Shanks, the star of Kevin Cannon’s previous work, Far Arden. Shanks finds himself dismayed by the loss he suffered during the events of Far Arden and has decided to buy a one-way ticket to Antarctica, where all arctic pirates venture once their usefulness has run its course. It’s at this point that Shanks’ path crosses with an ambitious teenage girl named Wendy, who wishes to raise enough funds to eventually make her way to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Shanks is then approached by the Canadian government to aid them in investigating a Siberian oil tanker called the Lunayev that has anchored in Canadiane. waters, claiming their mission is to launch a rocket to the moon to mine a cheap, clean reusable energy source.
Army Shanks’ exploration of the Lunayev not only reveals that the Siberian rocket is real, but that a woman on-board might be his long-lost, childhood love, Pravda. The problem Pravda seems to have, however, is that she can’t remember a thing about her past. She also happens to be married to captain of the Lunayev, Captain Sztab. Shanks manages to kidnap Pravda and sets off to try and restore her memory. Meanwhile, tensions mount and conspiracies run amok around the true nature of the Lunayev. Oh, and Wendy? She happens to stumble upon a prototype moon-base in the Canadian arctic called Crater XV that belongs to the Canadian Arctic Space Agency (CASA). The dilemma here is that CASA has been disbanded for 20 years, but Crater XV remains inhabited by two Canadian astronauts (one of whom remains oblivious to the program’s demise).
From here, the reader is taken on a wild and zany ride through a hilariously action-packed emotional roller-coaster of arctic piracy, crushed dreams, and international controversy. Lost yet? Good. Hopefully that means you’ll go check out Crater XV for yourself to figure out what in the world I’m talking about!
Crater XV is so much fun. It may appear to be a long read, but I was amazed by how quickly I made my way from chapter to chapter. At times I had a hard time putting it down. Kevin Cannon’s tongue-in-cheek political satire flows well with the story and only adds to the absurd nature of the plot. Canada’s belated entry into the space-race and utter zeal to partake in anything newsworthy was beyond hilarious.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Crater XV, however, comes from the artwork. Particularly, Cannon’s very literally stated actions had me cracking up throughout and provided an appreciated layer of levity. Straying away from the typical onomatopoeia like “POW!” or “KABOOM!”, Cannon delivers a “DUCK INSIDE SOME SORT OF SUPPLY CLOSET” or “SWORDFIGHT SWORDFIGHT”. Cannon’s cartoon-style carries with it a very whimsical nature that plays well into both the cleverly ironic humor and inevitable heartbreak. His characters are overtly realized and sincerely developed, which is refreshing to see in this medium.
I’m excited to see what Kevin Cannon has in store for Army Shanks down the road. From my experience with Crater XV, Cannon seems to be an excellent writer and illustrator with a lot of promise in the future. Crater XV is a definite must read, so check out Top Shelf’s website and dive into one of the funniest books you’ll have the pleasure of reading this year.
Most people call me JJ. I’m 23 and currently working as a freelance web-designer as I finish up my schooling. I’m a huge comic book fan and I have an immense appreciation for the medium. I can’t believe that one of my multiple jobs involves reading and writing about comic books. I hope that, not only can my readers learn something from me, but that I can learn something from them as well.
Summary:GREAT: Kevin Cannon's epic 496 page adventure about arctic pirates, devious Siberians, and the Canadian space race is one of the most original and cleverly written graphic novels that I have had the pleasure of reading.