I think I’m starting to give a shit what happens to the characters in Kaptara, and that disturbs me giving how mind numbingly ridiculous most of them seem to be. In a comic that has so far introduced to Cat Tanks, trolling Gloomps, and naked wizards, Chip Zdasrky pulls off his most absurd trick this week in getting me to care about whether any of these wackos make it out of each misadventure alive. Following last issue’s run-in with the Gloomps, the crew already faces another ambush when Dartor jumps off the convoy in order to harvest a couple Blossoming Bilfors to add their poisons (they cause victims to relive their worst childhood memory for five minutes) to his blow dart arsenal. The attack comes to a close when Keith tackles one of the attacking Hexamen, revealing her to be one of Keith’s human crewmates, Laurette. She convinces the Hexamen to host Keith and his companions for the night at their hive, and then shows Keith that the Hexamen have a transport system capable of sending them back to Earth once an upcoming fire storm hits and provides the energy needed for the trip. The rest of the issue devolves into one of Dartor’s madcap side adventures at the Hive Bar where he meets a royal Hexamen and engages in a contest only William S. Burroughs would consider doing.
While Zdarsky’s writing for both this comic and Howard The Duck has received acclaim for his wacky characters, and gift for brilliant non-sequiturs, his script writing deserves regard for its ability to manage such madcap energy while telling a coherent narrative. Despite each issue’s misadventure, Kaptara’s plot steadily moves forward on all fronts whether that’s Keith’s convoys attempt to find his missing crewmates, or the mercenaries hunting them down. Additionally, we’re treated to dialogue that never feels unnecessary despite its abundance, and characters interact with each other in ways that seem lifted from real life conversations like She-La’s sarcastic response to Melvon’s lengthy anecdote about his ex or Dartor being his usual arrogant self to anyone in his vicinity.
Kagan McLeod’s art continues to match Zdarsky’s imagination point for point, and he pulls off a damn wonderful rendering of the Hexagon, the Hexamen’s transportation system. However, some pages become confusing due to some inconsistent linework that one point had me uncertain about whether I was looking at Dartor, or someone attempting to look like him via shoddy makeup. Although a minor quibble, it did disrupt the flow of the issue as I had to flip back to check whether I missed a few pages. Otherwise though, Mcleod shows in this issue that he can pull off some subtle facial expressions, capturing Dartor in a rare moment of regret.
However, the most astonishing reveal this issue is easily the death of a random character that’s somehow hilarious despite the terrible circumstances of its occurrence. Zdarsky’s writing makes me uncomfortable because it dismantles any ideas I have about myself as some sophisticated literati. When I’m laughing at the deaths of an entire innocent, albeit fictional, crowd I question my sanity in addition to Zdarsky’s source of inspiration for these lunatics. I previously wrote off Kaptara as merely a fantasy romp, but Zdarsky and McLeod continue to elevate my expectations for this comic with each issue.