By Ben Boruff
In its eighth season, How I Met Your Mother introduced the world to The Dobler-Dahmer Theory. This theory proposes that, in the context of a potential relationship, "If both people are into each other, a big romantic gesture works, like Lloyd Dobler holding up the boombox outside Diane Court's window in Say Anything..., but if one person isn't into the other, the same gesture comes off serial-killer crazy, or Dahmer." Alexander Banchitta tests this theory, perhaps unintentionally, in Captives, his Rapunzel-esque medieval fantasy comic about a pretty girl in a tower and the host of sexually frustrated men who attempt to save her.
Captives opens with the intriguing story of a shameful soldier, but the narrative quickly becomes a feudal version of The Maze Runner—except the prize at the end of the maze is a young princess, not a video of Patricia Clarkson. At the beginning of the story, an army deserter dupes a young princess into loving him. When King Nelm discovers this trickery, he turns the man into a Cronenbergian monster and places him in a labyrinth that surrounds a tower. Then the king inexplicably locks his daughter in the tower, and the primary story begins. Like a haphazard Fellowship of the Ring, men of all sorts, including a young boy who is likely the comic's protagonist, gather outside the maze and prepare to face the creatures that surround the princess.
And they do so—they prepare for terror and likely death—because they are obsessed with sex.
Or so it seems.
Like the film version of The Maze Runner, this comic suffers from some forced dialogue and a lack of believable characters, but the comic's most notable hiccup is its basic premise. I will not root for a teenage boy who is infatuated with a hot girl in a tower. That's like cheering for a high schooler who wants to date Ariana Grande. The boy seems to believe that he is in love—"She's the only reason I breathe," he says—but he has never spoken to her. And the older men are worse. A bearded, Gimli-like man says, "She's so pretty, I want to kiss her and make her my wife," and a man with an apparent replica of Magneto's helmet talks about "looting and plundering this virgin land," which is one of the more appalling (perhaps unintentional) innuendos I have read in an indie comic.
Are these characters romantic like Dobler or creepy like Dahmer? Given Wannabe Magneto's comment, the lack of dialogue between these men and the princess, and the fact that the boy has, for an entire year, "had to settle with just sleeping under her window," I see more Dahmers than Doblers.
Perhaps future issues will push beyond the first issue's disturbing exposition. If they do, I look forward to reading them.
Writer: Alexander Banchitta
Artists: Robert Ahmad, Dan Parsons, Vojislav Vasiljevic, Mike Dubisch
Letterer: Fred C. Stresing
Publisher: Fright Comics