ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Canto II: The Hollow Men,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Canto II: The Hollow Men

Canto II: The Hollow Men #1 is a fantasy comic published by IDW. The writer of the comic is David M. Booher, and the art is provided by Drew Zucker. Colors by Vittorio Astone and letters produced by Deron Bennett. Canto is one of a whole race of clockwork knights. In the previous volume, his people were enslaved and had their hearts replaced with ticking clocks. Canto overthrew his nemesis, the Shrouded Man and became the hero and protector of his people. Canto II picks up that fable many years later, where the clockwork knight and his fellow clockwork soldiers have been at peace. But he and his brothers in arms must venture forth on a new quest as the extinction of their whole race is at stake.

The story and structure are fantastic, as it feels like an issue split into two halves. Booher uses the first part to catch both new and returning readers up, as time has passed between the two editions. The backstory and important details of the plot are explored and described quickly and efficiently. Many of the workings and rules of this fantastical land aren’t clarified. For example, the tall red demon beasts, the Malorex, that Canto and his warriors use as steeds are brushed over for newcomers to the series. But that is beneficial to the issue as a whole as it keeps the story streamlined and moving. The readers are then taken on a small adventure with Canto and his fellow soldiers. The playful interactions and fast-moving pace suggested a spirited and fun tone to the series, before screeching to a halt with a sudden twist that was wholly unexpected. 

One of the most endearing aspects of Canto II: The Hollow Men #1 is the titular character. Canto is a wonderful protagonist to follow through the beginning of the medieval fantasy. The hero is clearly a brave soldier, but he is nervous and unsteady as a ruler. The clockwork knight is wracked with worry and guilt, scared about the heaviness of the crown on his head. The hero-worship that is bestowed upon the little knight has wearied the warrior, and it will be interesting to see how the theme of responsibility develops as the fable takes him further into peril. The other characters within his team: Falco, Rikta and Veratta, all make for a funny and heart, or clock, warming gang of heroes, and their friendship warms the pages they inhabit.

Canto: The Hollow Knight #2 panel

The art from Zucker is gorgeous, but his character designs really bring the clockwork within Canto II: The Hollow Men #1 to life. The art style the artist uses makes them impossibly charming to look at. The characters are small, with larger limbs and heads, all looking like tiny medieval knights. Or Marvin the Martian, if you look hard enough. Each of the knights is given incredibly individual armor designs, all having their own distinct lights underneath the metal too. Astone’s colors add a soul to the metal men and allows the audience to effortlessly pick them apart. What’s so amazing is the way that Zucker is able to convey so much emotion with a character who only has eyes to express themselves. Canto’s nervousness and worry are brilliantly shown just by his slumped posture. Zucker and Astone provide stunning texture to their metal characters, so much so that I started imagining the metal screeching and clunking when the characters moved.

The dialogue is immersive and true to the world. The characters all speak like Arthurian characters, making it entertaining when it comes from the small machine men. What I found refreshing was that Bennett didn’t use the font often found in fantasy stories such as this, which can often be difficult to read. 

Canto II: The Hollow Men #1 is a lovely fantasy comic that takes inspiration from the Wizard of Oz’s heartless Tin-Man and creates its own world filled with unique characters. The art is so amazing to look at, with designs that look new and original. The story has a powerful identity and depth. The cuteness of the design can easily lead to misconceptions about the emotional power the story has. But there are themes starting to emerge that really resonated with me as I read. Canto’s anxiety makes him a really effective main character and his tale should really be one of legend.

Canto II: The Hollow Men #1 is out August 26th, available where comics are sold.

Canto II The Hollow Men #1
5

TL;DR

Canto II: The Hollow Men #1 is a lovely fantasy comic that takes inspiration from the Wizard of Oz’s heartless Tin-Man and  creates its own world filled with unique characters. The art is so amazing to look at, with designs that look new and original. The story has a powerful identity and depth. The cuteness of the design can easily lead to misconceptions about the emotional power the story has. But there are themes starting to emerge that really resonated with me as I read. Canto’s anxiety makes him a really effective main character and his tale should really be one of legend.