By Daniel Vlasaty
I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but I generally don't do fantasy books. They're just not my thing. I think it's because they all tend to be too heavy. To me at least, everything seems weighed down and overly descriptive, and it's mainly the language in a fantasy book/comic that I can't get into. Maestros #1 is a fantasy book. But it's also so much more. Steve Skroce has created a multi-layered book that even this self-proclaimed fantasy hater can enjoy. Ugh. That sentence was terrible and I hated writing it. But it is true. I don't like fantasy but I did enjoy the shit out of Maestros.
I'm not even going to look at Maestros as a fantasy book in this review. Because like I said it's more than just that. Maestros is full of magic with a punk rock vibe. It reeks of aggression and angst and bucking against the system. This book is like an acid trip through rebellion and anger. Unlike most other fantasy books I've read, there is no slow intro into this world. We're thrown right into the thick of the shit here. All the blood and gore given to us, or forced on us, right from the beginning. The first page is a dude laid out in a pool of blood, missing an arm and almost cut in half. And there's some kind of monster covered in bugs and scabs standing over him. This immediately tells you what kind of book this is going to be. And that is R rated. Full of sex and drugs and blood and guts. Just all the kinds of fun things I look for in comic books.
As we are further introduced to this world, and the characters, I got the feeling that it all could get easily bogged-down in what I'm going to call the rules of fantasy. Which I take as a shit ton of exposition, overly describing the characters and the setting. The language. All of it. But thankfully that's not the case here. Skroce keeps the mysteries of the place (and the story) intact while giving up just enough information to keep me hooked.
This story is chaos. And I mean that in a good way. We follow a man named Will who is basically a freelance underground magician for hire. He's been banished to Earth for reasons we are not privy to yet, and he claims that selling dick enlarging elixirs to rich assholes is only temporary. Because his end goal is to save up enough cash by doing this so that he can just live the simple life, a nice and comfy existence, opening a used bookstore or teaching scuba diving or whatever. This sentiment right here makes him instantly relatable to me and just about every other reader out there, I would assume. Because isn't that what we all want? Isn't that why we're all working our fucking jobs, jobs we probably hate? Just so we can afford the things we want in life, just so that life, in general, can be a little easier on us. It connected with me at least.
Aside from this, there isn't much character development that happens on the page. And some, if not most, of the characters, come off slightly flat because of it. But it's only the first issue so I expect that this will be remedied in the coming issues. As we're really only being introduced to all that's going on here.
Steve Skroce also does the art in Maestros. I became familiar with his work through the fantastic We Stand on Guard. If you've seen his stuff you know what to expect. Hyper-realistic, heavily detailed. Just plain amazing shit. Here, though, the art is even more graphic, more violent. But none of it seems excessive. None of it felt out of place. All the blood and gore and the violence. It's fitting for the story. The art is clean and sharp and bold. Combine that with great creature design and world-building and this book is really something special.
Maestros #1 was not what I was expecting it to be before I started reading. It's a great story filled with great art. The characters might be a little lacking as of yet, but it's only the first issue and I'm into it already so I'm down with wherever this thing's going. I am hooked. I loved this book.