Sunday, August 8, 2010

Warlord of Io

by James Turner

There is nothing like a James Turner comic.  He works at a level of madcap creativity that is almost beyond description, and has just completed what has to be one of his craziest stories yet.

Warlord of Io tells the story of Zing, an adolescent 26 year old prince, who, due to his father's sudden abdication, is thrust into the role of Emperor of Io, a job he never wanted.  Zing's ambitions never extended past defeating video games and becoming an intergalactic rock star.  Now he has a gigantic empire, held together by a massive military industrial complex, to manage.

His close friend and potential love interest, Moxy Comet, encourages him to implement social reforms and to improve the lives of everyday Ions, at the expense of the military budget.  This immediately leads to a military coup led by the ambitious and ruthless General Grymak.  Grymak quickly pulls together support in the military when he lies about having the former Emperor's support, and things start to move quickly.

Zing and Moxy, accompanied by Urk the loyal bodyguard and a cutting off a wise philosophical plant, escape, and most of the book is concerned with their adventures trying to avoid Grymak's legions, as Grymak works to consolidate his power. 

The strength of this comic lies in the diversity of characters, races, and items Turner has created in building up his Ion Empire.  Hundreds of alien species, weird ships, guns, and ambassadorial protocols fill this comic, and that's before you get to the Tiki Space Pirates.  This comic is frequently funny, and politically very sharp.

It does lack the more literary and philosophical commentaries found in Rex Libris and Nil, but this is a consistently good book throughout.  Turner's computer-designed artwork can take some getting used to, as the panels are absolutely packed with details, but much of the fun of reading his comics come from exploring each frame of artwork.

Highly recommended.

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