Canto’s quest to find the lost heart of his love has hit a snag as he and his Malorex companion have been swallowed up by a monster. All is not what it seems as they meet the Hermit deep within the belly of the beast who reveals more about Arcana and its history. Canto learns of the context of his people’s slavery. Will that be enough to accomplish his goal? Or will the Shrouded Man consume him too?
It’s been clear from the beginning that Canto is built upon a vast mythos. Writer David M. Booher continues to expand that with this issue. It changes what we know about this world and its hierarchy in an eye-opening fashion. The slavers have been shown as these all-powerful masters, controlling the tin knights through fear and intimidation. We learn how they got into that position and why, which comes close to painting them in a sympathetic light. It doesn’t excuse their horrible deeds, but it does explain them.
While this is fascinating, it does take a bit of momentum out of the story. Canto’s adventure was moving at a brisk pace before he was swallowed up and now he’s basically sitting down for story time for half of this issue. It’s valuable information that changes the context of the comic entirely. I just wonder if there was a different way to deliver it instead of a history lesson.
Colorist Vittorio Astone gives the flashbacks a faded look, as if we’re looking at a memory. This differentiates these scenes from those in the present. There’s one panel that’s shown in regular color that stands out as it is a decisive moment in the history of the slavers. This gives the image some additional weight.
What I’m most intrigued by are the small sequences that seem to reference a time before all of this and one way after. Canto #3 opens with two pages following a human boy and his quest to become a knight. I really want to learn how he might fit into the world of Arcana. Could this be the Shrouded Man?
Similarly, there are occasional captions shown in a glowing font, presumably in the far reaches of space, talking about Canto’s journey. Letterer Deron Bennett gives these an ethereal quality, adding to their mystery.
Despite all the doom and gloom that comes from Canto’s lot in life, the fantasy elements still inspire wonder and awe. Artist Drew Zucker’s designs give you a glimpse as to how deep this mythos goes. The look for the title character is part adorable and part inspiring. He’s in over his head – literally – yet he still stands up tall and ready to face any obstacle that comes his way. We could all learn a lot from the way he looks at the world.
We’ve reached the halfway point of Canto and it feels like we’re just getting started. There’s so much more to explore in Arcana and I’m eager to discover it through the rest of the series. At its core, this is a fantasy adventure story with a whole lot of heart. I realize that’s a little funny as that’s exactly what Canto is looking for. In any case, this is sure to appeal to any fans of the genre.