It’s 1934, America struggles through the great depression… and it turns out dragons actually exist.
In these tough times there is little joy and even less entertainment, a fact The Mob exploits to generate audiences and betting for their illegal dragon fights.
Recently, ten-year-old boy, Enrico, lost his father to the highly paid, incredibly dangerous and outlawed occupation of dragon egg stealing, but with his mother desperate and opportunity knocking, Enrico himself may have to get into the game.
First let it be said that Four Eyes is a great comic and one that more people should read. It’s central concept is original, but retains a feeling of familiarity due to its mixing of genres we already know well, high fantasy, mafia crime and a depression-era-underdog-storyline. I’ve never read anything like it, but it doesn’t feel like it’s beating me in the face with its ‘new ideas’… that’s a good thing.
Joe Kelly (I Kill Giants, The Amazing Spider-Man) does a fantastic job of letting the story gradually unravel the rules of the reality it is set in. Kelly’s approach is much like that of author Joe. R. Lansdale in such novels as The Bottoms and A Fine Dark Line, where most of the mystery in the story derives from a child’s ignorance of the adult world, their investigations into which drive the drama, the direction of the story, and the maturity of the character. It’s an angle I like, the child seeking answers that everyone around him knows is a good way to have you sympathize with the character’s frustration.
The writing is smooth and confident and the work of a writer at the top of his game. I’ve long enjoyed the work of Joe Kelly but there always used to be a missing cohesiveness, a problem that has now been dealt with, evidenced by the fact that he has produced by far the best stories on Marvel’s experimental Brand New Day run of The Amazing Spider-Man comics, and releasing one of my favourite graphic novels in the last few years, the wonderfully touching I Kill Giants.
Max Fiumara’s (Infinity Inc., The Amazing Spider-Man) art in Four Eyes has an unusual style but is a pleasure to look at, has a good pace and tells the story in a clear and exciting fashion. His dynamism is great but pales in comparison to his dragon designs. Adding new twists to the usual perception of dragons, Fiumara has put together a collection of creatures like you will have never seen, in comics or film.
Four Eyes is typical for the kind of ‘out there’ projects that Image seems to be making their specialty of late. Those of you who still associate Image with boring stories told by self indulgent 90’s artists should check out a Previews Magazine or Image’s website and take a look at their current output and recent back catalogue. You’ll be surprised to find that they are second only to Vertigo for original and unusual creator controlled projects, and even surpass them for broadness of subject matter. The Walking Dead, Cowboy Ninja Viking and I Kill Giants are good examples of why they’re worth taking a chance on.
Unfortunately, being a creator controlled book, Four Eyes suffers from an irregular shipping schedule due to its creators’ current workload. Kelly oversees the TV show Generator Rex on top of his Marvel and DC work, and Fiumara now works pretty heavily on Marvel books. Four Eyes volume 1 collects issues 1-4 of the series, but as yet an issue 5 has not been released, the creative team apparently holding off on release until they have a few more issues under their belts. This means a second volume of the collected editions could be over a year away. Heartbreaking, because volume 1 is truly only the beginning of the story, which if continuing from how the volume ends, could be the best parts of How To Train Your Dragon meets Seabiscuit with a bit of Road To Perdition thrown in. Four Eyes is pure entertainment, suitable for people of all ages, and I for one will be waiting for the second volume, no matter how long it takes.
B grade – for storytelling
B- grade – for the art
B+ grade – for creature design
B grade – for originality
Overall Score: B