Canto #5 Brings Us Face-To-Face With The Shrouded Man

by James Ferguson

Canto has faced so many obstacles to get to the City of Dis and confront the Shrouded Man. Before he can face off with his enemy, he must get through the Furies. These fierce winged warriors are pulling on his doubts and fears to throw him off balance before attacking. Even if he does make it through, what is waiting for him in the Emerald Tower?

The bulk of Canto #5 consists of an epic fight scene in the heart of the city. Artist Drew Zucker creates some exciting double page spreads showing all sides of the combat. The fight is on land and in the air and the shots are always unique. No two attacks are the same.

Canto is not alone in this battle, joined by his trusty Malorex and a mysterious warrior. Everyone gets some time to shine, especially the Malorex, who delivers one of the most devastating blows against the Furies. Since this is an all ages title, Zucker is careful to hide some of the violence. Some is implied, but you don’t see the actual attack land or its aftermath.

The double page spreads follow the same basic format with each one focusing on a different character. This gives us every angle of the fight as it’s all happening at the same time. There’s a lot to dig into on these pages. I found myself going over them again and again so I can see each individual blow and how the fight was choreographed.

The limited dialogue in this scene mostly comes from the Furies, plucking at the doubts of the warriors. Letterer Deron Bennett uses a menacing font for this speech, so you can imagine it slicing right to your very soul. Their words cut deep and they pull on some very real fears that everyone has.

The world of Canto continues to expand. I will never get tired of the extensive mythos writer David M. Booher is building. While some elements are just touched upon, there’s more than enough to sink your teeth into. You don’t need to know the full history of every single character, their people, and their home. Instead, we get just enough to appreciate this wide world and keep the story going. You can understand the motivations of the characters based on their actions and how they speak to one another.

The tone shifts towards the end of Canto #5 as our small warrior makes his way to the Emerald Tower. Colorist Vittorio Astone moves from the well-lit streets where the fight takes place to the shadowy lair of the Shrouded Man. Hope evaporates as Canto enters this space. You can feel the fear rising up around him. There’s a good chance he may never come out.

There’s a nice twist here that ties up a loose end that has been running through the series to date. It really reframes everything that’s come before. I love a book that lends itself to repeated readings and with this issue, Canto has definitely put itself in that crowd. It will be interesting to go through this again with a new set of eyes and see what I can pick out.

I can see influences of some other fantasy stories in Canto. It plays with these core ideas and makes something entirely its own. This is a special comic that shows us how anyone, no matter how big or small, can stand up for what’s right. This little warrior is an inspiration.

Canto #5 from IDW Publishing is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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