The gifted witch boy Klarion fights against what he sees as an undisciplined foe. Klarion himself is not a hero, however, and shuns responsibility when it suits him. Klarion #5 offers:
- Unorthodox but effective art choices.
- An interesting central character.
- A discipline versus easy power theme
- The message: technology use must be responsible at the very least.
Despite opening with strange dialogue, unorthodox but effective panel arrangements provide strong and colourful images. With clever wordplay, the comic closes with a powerful scene for Klarion.
The comic opens with a flurry of strange new words. The language might be confusing at first. The comic introduces the characters inside Klarion’s pocket universe. Panel arrangements are unorthodox, but well chosen. Space on the page is balanced with small dialogue balloons.
Overall, the layout presentation is strong. Detailed choices, such as the use of dark blue with bright red and yellow contrast well with some neon bright highlights around large, weird shapes in the background of Klarion’s pocket universe.
Other key details contained in the comic include a clever use of wordplay, and hard, harsh lines around panels for scenes with the villain of the comic contrasted with softer, curved lines for scenes with more heroic, magical characters.
As an examples of the wordplay, Klarion digs through data to find information on the villain on the comic – a time traveller named Coal – saying “I need dirt on Coal”.
The final page shows Klarion summoning a flock of ravens. His pre-battle speech brings together all the themes of the comic. Hundreds of black birds engulfed in light fly around him as he summons a bolt of blue lightening.
Technology versus magic makes up the core conflict of the comic. Through Klarion’s fight with Coal, a theme of discipline versus easy power emerges. Consumers who take Coals technology have a strange experience ahead of them.
The narrative conflict of the comic is Klarion choosing to face off against Coal. The villain Coal comes from the future, and is using powerful technology from that time period. His technological gift is eaten, which grants the consumer some useful abilities. Things become strange when the buddy bot system activates, and a tiny, rapidly growing android slips out of the consumers left palm.
It’s interesting to see right down to the core of the comic’s idea. Arthur C. Clarke’s statement that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” is the kernel idea here.
There is a sub-narrative about artificial intelligence, and parenting. It’s this sub-narrative that helps build Klarion as an anti-hero. It’s interesting Klarion would criticise Coal for selling a technology that gives easy power without discipline since he consumes the Buddy Bot system himself for extra power, but walks away from the responsibility and duty of care that comes when his own Buddy Bot emerges.
Technology used irresponsibly without discipline is shown as a dangerous addiction. Useful sorcery is shown as an exact discipline. If the two are not so different, with magic being explained as advanced tech, a message that tech must be used responsibly plays out.
Technology squaring off against magic, in this comic, brings out theme of discipline versus easy power. Klarion’s point of view gives all the information needed to build up this theme. While he is a conflicted anti-hero, and potentially an unreliable narrator, his perspective is consistent.
He compares magic and sorcery to the exactitude and discipline of learning to play an instrument, moreover conduct an orchestra. Magic is put on the same level as forces of nature, and the disciple and industry of Daedulus, the inventor mention in Greek myth concerning the Minotaur, the flight of Icarus.
Technology is compared to Icarus flying to fly to quickly, and burning up from harsh sunlight. Technology is a drug, and a source of addiction.
It’s in these scenes placed through the narrative that themes of discipline versus easy power emerge. If the two are not so different, with magic being explained as advanced tech, a message that tech must be used responsibly plays out
It’s also worth pointing out that the Buddy Bot System that emerges from the consumer can be seen as similar to the Greek god Athena, who sprung forth from her father Zeus. Two references to Greek Myth in one comic appear here. A strange and weird story overall, but with an interesting theme, message, and character.
Klarion #5 is published by DC Comics ($2.99 USD). Ann Nocenti (W.) Trevor McCarthy and Szymon Kudranski (A.) Guy Major (C.) Pat Brosseau (L.) Cover artwork by Raymond Bermudez.