Tales of Colossus (2006)

Well, this is an unexpected gem. In the middle ages, Orlant is a great knight on the losing side of a major battle. Imprisoned and facing death, Orlant fights back. For his trouble, Orlant is exiled to a middle-eastern kingdom where his soul is trapped forever inside a great metal colossus. Orlant breaks away and, inevitably, seeks his revenge on those who have imprisoned him. The depraved Grimon, who has amazing powers of his own, leads the forces of evil. And, of course, the story all leads to a tremendous climactic battle.

Mark Andrews does a masterful job of creating this story, giving its unique tale an amazing sense of atmosphere. Like a great animated film, Andrews creates setting though use of complex and lush backgrounds and great character designs. The character of Colossus boasts a wonderfully striking design. The creature looks like something that could have been created in that era, as if a great blacksmith had worked on the armor. Sir Grimon, on the other hand, has an utterly depraved and untrustworthy look from the moment he first appears. Readers can tell as soon as Grimon appears on the page that he is utterly without morality, both from Grimon’s words and actions. He’s a truly evil man, and Andrews creates Grimon character well.

Comparing this graphic novel to an animated film is especially appropriate when discussing Mark Andrews. Andrews worked at Pixar studios, working as a script supervisor on The Incredibles before moving on to Samurai Jack and Clone Wars. If there’s one thing that each of those three works share, it’s a deep and abiding feel for the history of their characters. In all three, there’s a sense that the characters have a full history that happened before we meet them, and that’s definitely the case here. Between the beginning of this graphic novel, rich in historical depth, and the ending of this graphic novel, a rich description of the main character’s life, Orlant really feels like a man who might have walked the Earth several hundred years ago.

The only real weakness of this terrific novel is that I was thirsty to see what Andrews could do with this story if it were in color. The black-and-white rendering is lush and wonderful, but if it were in color, this could have been another Rocketo.

But that’s a minor quibble. Tales of Colossus is a thoroughly satisfying epic from the pen of a tremendously talented creator.


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