Capitalizing on the reveal of the last issue, Tartarus takes a swift move into gliding its narrative past basic tropes. Rather than having the characters deal with the explosive reactions of a revelation, writer Johnnie Christmas gets to the heart of the matter: can we trust each other after we’ve attacked one another? It’s a powerful question that our society is asking itself right now. In Christmas’s depiction, it’s a simple dispute of knowing who someone is versus who they can be.
With a persistence that can only be seen in a long-form crafted narrative, this book manages to uphold its own narrative reveries. Christmas and Cole extrapolate from a vast new world that never allows itself to be lazy in its storytelling. Each panel within this series has managed to cast another star within this beautiful night’s sky wonderfully drawn by Jack T. Cole. Truly, the simple aesthetics that Cole has taken hones itself into this wondrous Asian Futurism that transports the reader into lusciously textured and energetic pages from start to end.
On the narrative scope of things, Christmas has executed the plot in such a way that it never loses its world. While worldbuilding can usually hold back a story, Christmas cleverly bobs and weaves his exposition so that it always gives a greater impact. His depiction of his protagonist Tilde traversing through this new world is an endearing journey. As a reader, it’s hard to feel the stakes that a character deals with on the outset of the story.
Furthermore, the versatile lettering being achieved by Jim Campbell is a fun way of offering a unique means of communication. Campbell’s utilization of the text bubbles for a deaf character is some of my favorite tricks a letterer has employed in some time. It both blends with the atmosphere of the book while still feeding into a fantastic insight into a character. As it stands, the character is minor but for a craftsman to offer such integral care into something so small is a watermark for an outstanding creative team.
From editor Stephanie Cooke to the subtle design layout of this book from Ben Didier, this creative team pushes and feeds the medium. While it’s inevitable that changes can occur, it’s inspiring to bear witness to a group that is willing to offer such creative risks at a high caliber of execution.