Current Reviews


Abadazad #3

Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2004
By: Olivia Woodward

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Artists: Mike Ploog, Nick Bell

Publisher: CrossGen

The magical city of Inconceivable shakes with explosions, rudely awakening Kate from her slumber. The city is under attack from the Rocket Heads, who proceed to pursue the startled teen through the myriad halls of Queen Ija's palace. During this wild chase, Kate comes across Master Wix, a boy made out of wax…"more of a candle than a human being." Wix was her little brother's favorite character from the Abadazad novels; Kate immediately feels a kinship between herself and Wix, as if they were old friends.

After escaping the Rocket Heads, Kate finds herself leaving the safety of the Queen's palace and setting off on her own to find her missing brother, held prisoner by the Lanky Man for five years. But she isn't alone, for Wix believes in her mission. Together they set out on the dangerous journey to the Wretchedly Awful City. With one bold step into the unknowable future, Kate and Wix find themselves staring down the maw of an overwhelming menace.

But belief is the determinant of fate in the enchanted world of Abadazad. For in this wondrous land, doom only comes to those who accept it. Will Kate's spiritual resolve be enough to escape this threat? Or will she be food for the fishes?

"An' I'm never gonna stop looking…no matter what anybody says."

Kate's magical adventure continues with all of charm found in the previous two issues. The plot is well structured, escalating the tension as Kate decides to leave the security of the magic city. The pacing is exquisite, starting with a bang and ending in a splash, with graceful integration of expository text throughout.

The development of Kate's character continues to be a high point of this title. She's impulsive and brash, yet capable of tenderness in regards to her brother. Her dialogue is cheeky and abrupt, capturing her teen rebelliousness and lack of sophistication. Most importantly, she's believable. Often times, fantasy stories lose their visceral intensity because the main protagonist, through whom the world is experienced, is not convincing. Therefore, without the anchor point of a strong protagonist, the world's fantastic elements feel a little hollow. Not in Abadazad! Kate is a rich character who captures the reader's imagination with her authentic behavior.

Ploog's illustrations are of impeccable distinction. The rich facial expressions, the narrative savvy in panel layout, and the fantastic details of setting, these all create for a powerful visual experience. For instance, in the scene where Kate first encounters Master Wix, a two page encounter amidst the Rocket Head attack, the panel design directs the eye in a manner that reveals elements of setting and strong character expression, through facial and stance depictions, with an adroit sense of pacing. It's a marvelous scene, matched throughout the issue with numerous equally-as-excellent scenes, such as in the defeat of the Rocket Heads or in the journey down the secret passage.

Finally, Nick Bell's painted colors are a charm. They create for a gentle, dream-like quality to this title, establishing a wonderful mood. Combined with Ploog's excellent compositions, the art is among of the best around.

"I have learned," Little Martha replied, "that the greatest adventures are the ones that seem utterly hopeless. For these," she went on, turning to face him now, "always end in the greatest joy."

This is a superior title in every way, from the basic elements of storytelling to the exploration of a compelling thematic concept, the power of belief. This title is simply flawless. I believe it is the best comic currently in publication, capable of enchanting any reader with its dream-like grace. I highly recommend it.

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