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RED STARWriter/Artist: Christian Gossett
Synopsis: An allegorical retelling of the fall of the Soviet Union, set in a fantastical universe of high technology and sorcery.
How Is It?: Very strange but compelling series featuring breathtaking artwork, though at times the ideas are overshadowed by the snazzy visuals.
The Battle of Kar Dathra's GateSynopsis: The United Republics of The Red Star started as a dream of Utopian freedom, but became a nightmare under the control of the Sorceror/god Imbohl. The Red Star now stands for a cruel military empire, ruled over by huge flying engines of death and sorceresses who can transform their bodies into destructive energy, at a price. A decade later, one of these sorceresses, a woman named Makita, recalls the disastrous Battle of Kar Dathra's Gate, a battle that cost her her husband due to the incompetence of the Red Star high command.
How Is It?: There certainly aren't many books like Red Star out there. The most prominent (and highly touted) feature is the artwork, which features elaborate CGI designs and high-tech colour, with prominent splash panels that often stretch across the border between pages. It's certainly eye candy, though in a way it's a drawback, too--I prefer my comics dense with information, so in some ways Red Star seemed like an overly brisk and lightweight read. The ideas are fascinating, though. This particular book is a highly allegorical recounting of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, transplanted to an alternate, Star Wars-ish reality. The "mythic" aspects are all drawn from Soviet iconography and popular art, and the idea is to contrast the original ideology of Marx and the Soviet founders with the brutal dystopia representing what Russia eventually became. This book certainly sets the stage for some great things, though the story is really just getting started when it ends. Almost as much space is given, at the back of the book, to the various design sketches and discussions of the CGI processes, which in some ways encapsulates this books' flaws: it's slick but a little on the empty side. Still, you can't complain it's unoriginal.
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