Monday, July 28, 2014

Review - The Chronicles of Faro: Chapter 1


"You can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

History is filled with defining events, both good and bad. Every event has consequences unlike any other event and arguing the merits of whether or not that event should be changed (if it were possible) always makes for a fun evening. There are some characters who feel the need to change some events though for whatever reason and their journeys through time offers up pretty fascinating reading. The Chronicles of Faro: Chapter 1 from HooligansCO recounts such a tale. The book is written by Faro Kane and features illustrations by Ale Garza, Pat Broderick, Richard Clark, Franchesco, Paolo Pantalena, Elias Chatzoudis and Monte Moore.

Professor Francis Kane destroys his career at the National Academy of Science when he claims he will travel back in time to prevent one of the biggest tragedies in American history -- the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The Professor successfully travels through time, literally landing in front of Ford's Theater with a mere five minutes to change history. Arrested while trying to save the President, Lincoln still falls, and history continues on its common course, while Professor Kane is forgotten and left to rot to death in an insane asylum...until he's miraculously rescued by Majesty, a beautiful Amazonian warlord. Seduced by Majesty in 1860, he is renamed Faro and helps her build a profiteers' paradise while the Civil War tears America apart. For his initiation into The Circle, his mission is simple, Murder Abraham Lincoln before Gettysburg, destroy the Union for good and allow slavery to reign across their new Empire with New York as their kingdom.

The Chronicles of Faro: Chapter 1 is nothing if not ambitious. It feels as if Kane has a pretty solid concept buried beneath what feels like an abundance of confusion. Traveling back through time to prevent an event as major as the assassination of President Lincoln is admirable on merit alone, but Kane doesn't really elaborate more as to why Professor Kane wants to stop that event specifically, other than it being something of a strange childhood dream to do so. It's pretty refreshing that he doesn't succeed initially, which spins the story into an entirely different direction, where now Kane has another chance with more time. Unfortunately, he's also traveled through more history than even he realizes, creating something of a name for himself as a despot. Buried underneath his "tyrannical" ways is his desire to do good and still ultimately stop John Wilkes Booth, which is something of an irony considering his proclamation of the phrase that fateful night at Ford's Theater.

There's a ton of different artists who contributed to the book and, as such, there's really no cohesive style that pervades all pages. The first two acts feel like a Zenescope book in terms of style, while the third and fourth feel inspired by Robert E. Howard in some ways. There's one part that's black and white as a plot device, while the final two acts feel a bit more modern in their appearance. Throughout the book, Kane's look varies to the point where sometimes it's hard to distinguish him amongst the other characters introduced specifically in that act. That's also a side effect of showing him throughout time, but as long as you can find Majesty (who's hard to miss as a buxom blonde), you can find Kane. Just about all of the women in the book are illustrated more or less as eye candy, while the men come across as strapping and combat ready. The pin-ups peppered throughout further this stylistic choice when it comes to female characters.

The Chronicles of Faro: Chapter 1 asks a rather poignant question at the beginning about whether or not you would take an adventure through time as shown to you by God. It's a very heady talking point and one that the book thrives on, showing one man doing just that. Kane infuses the book with plenty of explanation behind Kane's journey, but the plot itself suffers from some erratic scene shifts (even by a time traveler's standards) and a reasonably clever theme that's convoluted by the plot. The art styles don't mesh together at all and make the book feel more like an anthology than anything else, which hurts the overall unity of the story. In many ways, The Chronicles of Faro: Chapter 1 feels like a book that has many of the right pieces to be pretty solid, but for whatever reason can't really piece them together in a way that makes perfect sense.

The Chronicles of Faro: Chapter 1 is available now.

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