Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Comic Review: Cleopatra in Space (volumes one and two)

It's a little surprising I haven't blogged about this series before, I read the original webcomic Celopatra in Spaaaace! (there's a review for it somewhere) but it totally slipped my mind to check and see if the local library had any of the graphic novels for it. The third volume was recently released but my library did not in fact have it yet so I'm only covering the first two volumes here!

Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack

Cleopatra would rather play with slingshots and explore ruins than study in ancient Egypt but her antics have gotten her into trouble more than once. This time around Cleo's trouble might not even be her fault: she's zapped millennia into the future where she is informed (by space cats) that she is prophesied to free the universe from the conquering Xaius Octavian. But until the right moment, and Cleo gets more information, it's back to school for her with more homework, new friends, and a new ray gun.

Right off the bat this iteration of Cleopatra in Space takes a more conventional storytelling approach by starting the story just before Cleo is pulled through space and time to become a gun slinging student and hopeful messiah. The story is much more focused so far on this looming prophecy and I do miss some of the more episodic antics from the webcomic, it was a little more fun to watch Cleo scamper around rather than having multiple scenes where "Cleo is bad at school and doesn't like school and only likes shooting things" be the main focus. 

There's also a bit of a difference in the pacing of these two volumes. The first book reminds me a little of the "three episode test" in anime where you give a new show three episodes to see if you want to continue for the full run (unless the show disgusts you immediately that is). The first volume is a nice, solid introduction to the series and you get a good feel for what direction the plot is going to go in, just how many love triangles there are going to be in the story, and how Cleo herself is handling everything. The second volume doesn't fair as well, it too feels like about three episodes of an anime but like, three episodes in a longer arc. Sure we meet a new character (and see how that will probably make the plot a bit more complicated), Cleo starts to doubt some of the things she's heard, and the love triangles get even more convoluted, but the story doesn't really end. It doesn't wrap up a mini-conflict or anything like that, instead it feels like the end of this volume was dictated more by the number of pages in the book than do to careful planning. At this point I'm tempted to say that the story might read better if I wait until all of the volumes are released and then read them, by reading at my own pace I can fix the pacing problems at least a little bit that way.

And I do want to read more of the story, it is rather cute and the mere idea of an Egypt-inspired technological future isn't one I see very often at all. I don't know how many volumes the series is planned to be (I don't believe the third volume is the final one) so it may be a long time before I have a chance to do so.

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