ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Canto and the Clockwork Fairies’

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Canto and the Clockwork fairies

Canto and the Clockwork Fairies #1 is a one-shot published by IDW Publishing, written by David M. Booher, with art by Drew Zucker, colours by Vittorio Astone, and letters by Deron Bennett. Following the first volume of the original series, Canto, the one-shot takes place as Canto, a little clockwork knight with a ticking clock where his heart should be, continues his quest to find a  new home for his people.  In the original series, Canto rescued his race from captivity and became their hero but was unable to restore their hearts. While taking a rest, Canto hears a voice from below. Upon investigation, the hero discovers a cave full of clockwork fairies.

The story is short but interesting. Canto enters what feels like a dungeon-dwelling adventure, for which his universe really fits. The actual contents of the structure aren’t new or exciting, it’s a very typical rescue attempt, but the theme of captivity is something that is explored powerfully within this franchise. Canto and the rest of his race have only tasted freedom for a short while. The knights are just getting used to the concept of names, and the fear of being captured again weighs heavily on him. So when he finds these clockwork fairies trapped in cages, both Booher and Zucker brilliantly convey the horror of the situation.

One of the most endearing features of Canto and the Clockwork Fairies #1 is its main character. Canto is a brilliant protagonist who is filled with so much heart despite not having one. He has this inherent bravery within his cogs, but there is this overhanging doubt and vulnerability to him as well. The influence of the Wizard of Oz’s Tin Man on Booher is clear, with the emphasis on the soul of the metal man rather than what is inside his chest. There is a sadness overhanging Canto and the whole story, making this comic have more depth than just an adorable looking knight. 

The design of Canto is sensational. His diminutive stature and large head make him appealing to look at, and the amount of detail Zucker adds to his armour and clothing is stunning.  Canto has a face mostly made out of cold metal, but he also has incredibly expressive eyes that highlight his nervousness. Astone provides lovely colour to the armour of the knights. Alongside the grey and silvers that shine in the light, there are small, faint flecks of auburn rust that interrupt the armour plates, giving it personality.

Within Canto and the Clockwork Fairies #1, it isn’t just the knights that are well-drawn. The fairies themselves are designed in a way to suggest that they were once beautiful, glamorous creatures that have fallen victim to the sad, almost grotesque nature that shrouds the fantasy beings of the world. The fairies look like they have been trapped for a long time, their majesty dimmed after so long in captivity. Both Zucker and Astone display their sorrow effectively, and their pink skin and clothing allow them to stand out from the darkness of their cave. It’s important to mention that while there are sad moments and dialogue in Canto and the Clockwork Fairies, the overall tone is hopeful. The banter between Canto and his trusty demon steed Malorex is fun to read.

Canto and the Clockwork Fairies

Much of the lettering by Bennett is easy to read and very uncluttered. The only aspect where some readers may struggle to read is with the fairies’ word balloons, who have a pink background with white letters. It’s not unbearable, but it may be of concern to some.

More attention needs to be given to Astone too, as his colouring really provides the book with its atmosphere. The life they bring to the clockwork beings has already been referred to, but the backgrounds are fantastic. Within the cave, Astone simulates torchlight to light Canto or a specific part of the panel he wants you to focus on. The rest of the panel will be shrouded in shadows and darkness, creating an uneasiness as you read.

Canto and the Clockwork Fairies is a brilliant one-shot comic. It doesn’t necessarily bridge the gap between the first Canto series and the upcoming one since not much is revealed about Canto’s journey. However, it serves as an example of the kind of perils the knight and his friends have faced, while also revealing more about the world he lives in. The theme of captivity in this one-shot is very powerful and poignant, and the dialogue had a large impact on me at times. Canto is a fantastic hero to follow who has been given a brilliant personality by Booher and amazing design by Zucker. His look has always conjured up images of him as a playable character in a video game, and the dungeon crawling he partakes in during this issue makes it feel all the more possible. 

Canto and the Clockwork Fairies is released July 22nd and will be available where ever comics are sold.

Canto and the Clockwork Fairies
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TL;DR

Canto and the Clockwork Fairies #1  is a brilliant one-shot comic… The theme of captivity in this one-shot is very powerful and poignant, and the dialogue had a large impact on me at times. Canto is a fantastic hero to follow who has been given a brilliant personality by Booher and amazing design by Zucker. His look has always conjured up images of him as a playable character in a video game, and the dungeon crawling he partakes in during this issue makes it feel all the more possible.