Massive mythology and sci-fi action in JACIN AND THE OLYMPIANS

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From writer Shayne Berryhill (Chance Fortune and the Outlaws) and artist Mattia Monaco, and co-created by Alex Ogle and colorist Maja Opac, is a user-friendly Kickstarter graphic novel for all audiences of massive proportions. Jacin and the Olympians is an immensely ambitious and entertaining read with tons of lore and infectious energy. With exceptional visuals and an intriguing setup, Jacin and the Olympians will be the Kickstarter to move back before its release.

“In the near future, the titans of myth return, revealing the dark alien truth behind their legend. The remains of humanity escape aboard the Olympia, a space arch. Now teenage prodigy Jacin Mukai and his fellow Olympians are looking for a way to activate the Colossi robot, in the hopes of uniting them to create their only hope of survival against the threat of the titans – the giant protective robot, Talos.

* Reviewer’s Note *

I received a draft of Jacin of the author. While this is a solid representation of what the graphic novel will be, it is not a finished product. I intend to rate this book based on what I have seen and give my opinion on its current quality and the entertaining side of the finished product.

Writing and plot

What Shayne Berryhill and Alex Ogle have created here looks like a mix of a YA novel and Toonami-era anime. Jacin and the Olympians The opening sequence is exhilarating and provides a familiar yet engaging introduction to the world and the issues. The fusion of Greek mythology and science fiction / space opera is a delicious new experience. Jacin herself is a great young protagonist. Berryhill takes many tropes of gifted kids and throws them into a blender to create the mad genius of a teenage hero.

The Percy Jackson meets Star wars meets Voltron sentiment emanates from all aspects of the writing of this book. This creates some problems. First, there is a tremendous amount of lore and story that the reader is simply immersed in. Second, each segment of the book was separated by an unspecified time jump that introduced new characters and concepts without an introduction. Again, I received an unfinished preview version. It could easily be a problem that I never see. Either way, the unique mix of mediums and styles makes it a delightful read on the storytelling side.

Artistic direction

The most obvious draw at first glance on Jacin and the Olympians is the amazing work of art. Mattia Monaco and Maja Opac create an incredibly detailed and energetic visual experience. Monaco pencils are reminiscent of those of James Stokoe or Daniel Warren Johnson. There is an obvious manga / anime influence in his work. This is particularly evident in his character and his environmental designs. Each surface is loaded with cross hatching, giving it that worn-out future aesthetic of the 80s. That’s not to say that Monaco’s work is purely manga-inspired. On the contrary, it is a perfect fusion of Eastern influences and Western artistic direction.

Monaco character designs are finely drawn love letters with named influences from this comic while remaining unique to this story. The massive mix of mythological visuals and space opera is carefully linked by the artistic vision. Monaco merges geometric patterns from the 80s with indescribably foreign elements. Her characters are expressive and all uniquely drawn, making them instantly recognizable in a crowded panel.

While much of the preview I received has yet to be colored, there was enough work completed that I can honestly say that Maja Opac’s work here is just as spectacular. It matches the aesthetic language of Monaco using a dark color palette of vaporwave styles. There are dark pinks and purples on almost every panel, punctuated with darkness. This creates the almost inevitable feeling of claustrophobia when living on a spaceship. This is however interrupted by the brightness provided by the characters. Jacin herself is a sort of unspoken beacon of hope and progress. It lights up each panel in which it is located. It might be a completely accidental effect, but it’s a delightful detail nonetheless. This graphic novel has an infectious visual energy that is worth the price of admission on its own.

Verdict

Jacin and the Olympians is a unique and immensely enjoyable graphic novel. Shayne Berryhill and Alex Ogle have created a story that everyone can enjoy. This comic takes concepts from mythology and timeless space operas, wraps them in a Saturday morning cartoon and manga, and succeeds in spades. The visuals of Mattia Monaco and Maja Opac are full of thoughtful details and a booming energy. This is a Kickstarter worth supporting, so make a commitment by September 12 to reserve a copy!


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