Review - The Sunless Circus #1

"One day:"

Dick Grayson is one (if not the) most famous acrobats in the comic book universe. His origin as Robin as a job change was predicated by a rather tragic event, something that almost always seems to the case in these situations. Sometimes though, switching from one job to the other is a little less traumatic and just involves a little perseverance and hard work. A robot acrobat has such persistence in The Sunless Circus #1, written and illustrated by Chris Kawagiwa.

Prepare to marvel at the spectacular feats of the Amazing Ardee, the Robot Boy Acrobat. If only the life of an acrobatic robot were that simple, as Ardee has grander ambitions than just impressing crowds at a traveling circus with his amazing ability. He's got an eye for economics and business, seeking to better himself and get out of the monotony of the circus he rolls with. While the crowds will certainly miss his talents, Ardee won't really miss the crowds all that much in his new future.

Kawagiwa made an interesting choice in utilizing no dialogue in the book (save for a few narration boxes). The Sunless Circus #1 is billed as a silent comic though and for the purpose of the book it actually works exceptionally well. The story is simple enough and doesn't really need a lot of text bubbles to convey Kawagiwa's message to the reader. That message is that many of us aren't really happy with our lot in life and have our eyes to the horizon in terms of what we can do that will make us happy. The silent aspect of the comic really helps the sadness resonate with the reader as it's a situation that most can commiserate with and rarely requires words to fully grasp the situation.

As far as the art goes Kawagiwa does a brilliant job, offering up an old-timey, carnival feel that matches the story's atmosphere appropriately. And for Ardee being a robot, he's great at showing emotion with his facial expressions, a feat that Kawagiwa pulls off with relative ease it would seem. There's also some very interesting panel layouts, where some bits of the action fill out the full-page panel and his highlighted by the panels surrounding that focal point in the action. The black and white art is a good fit for the tale and keeps up with the silent movie atmosphere being pitched by Kawagiwa.

The Sunless Circus #1 is a very poignant look at happiness as a direct product of job satisfaction. It's a link that's been debated, but Kawagiwa feels it's a big enough deal to create a wonderful tale about it. It's a short comic that's usually ends up being to the detriment of the work, but in this case it's perfectly appropriate for the story at hand. This is a book that easily feels like it could be part of an Archaia anthology and is very reminiscent of Return of the Dapper Men. Definitely a book worth checking out.

The Sunless Circus #1 is available now via Comixology.