Written by: Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Kagan Mcleod
Kaptara is one of those series that almost passed me by. You know how it is, so many comics come out every month it’s hard to keep up - even when you’ve got an editor funneling review copies into your inbox. You skim through covers and look at creative teams and say to yourself: “Kaptara? What the hell is this? Oh, Zdarksy wrote it. I’ll get around to it.” And next thing you know five issues have come out and the internet is raving about it and you start to wonder if you’re perpetually doomed to be behind the curve, destined to a life of playing media catch up.
So, what the hell is Kaptara? Its creator described it in an interview as “Gay Saga,” which works at a certain level, but Kaptara is a lot of things. Me? I look at Kaptara and see and what would happen if John Carter, Rat Queens and The ThunderCats spent all night drinking absinthe and then had a threesome no one but Panthro wanted to admit happened.
Kaptara is the story of Keith Kanga, a scientist and crew member of a manned mission to a newly terraformed Mars. Things go awry when the ship is caught in a pinch in space-time that hurls it helplessly across space and onto the world of Kapatara; a planet that’s a populated by bizarre kingdoms, hate-filled trolls and testicle sweat sensing gryphon-centaurs. Finding himself stranded on Kaptara taken in by the royal family of Enom as a foreign dignitary, Keith, isn’t particularly concerned with finding a way back to Earth or locating the surviving members of his crew. Nor does he really care that the same wormhole that brought them to Kapatara might have been used by the evil Skullthor to travel to Earth and attempt to conquer it. In fact, Keith is concerned with little more than enjoying the bizarre luxuries of Enom and entertaining the sexual advances of scantily clad local warriors. It’s only pangs of guilt related to the sacrifice of his captain and urging from Queen Jinli that drives Keith into an adventure across the landscape of Kaptara.
Accompanied by the queen’s head of security, Manton, the dim-witted Prince Dartor, She-La expert tracker in some sort of chipmunk outfit, the motivation orb and Melvon, a nude shape-shifting wizard, Keith sets out to find any surviving members of his shuttle crew and save Earth from Skullthor. Unbeknownst to Keith and company, while they’re encountering a host of rude and weird denizens of Kaptara, Villektra, Skullthor’s second in command, dreams up her own scheme to lay claim to the world.
Kaptara is filthy, hilarious, fast-paced and best of all weird. There’s a marked irreverence towards all the things it draws its influence from but a strong root in the literary tradition of strangers in strange lands. Most admirably, Kaptara is never weird or crude for the sake of it; it all fits in with the tone established from the first pages of the story.
Zdarksy’s writing is fun and breezy, as we’ve come to expect from our favorite writer from the great white north, and McLeod’s art is lurid, pulpy and pretty much leaps off the page to whack you in your sweaty bits.
And for the tabletop nerds: Kapatara is the best campaign setting you’re going to be mad you didn’t think of yourself. Zdarsky and McLeod even do us the favor of bluffing up the five issue collection with a of strange rogues who populate the world and are plotting against our heroes,
Kaptara volume 1 is sci-fi/fantasy romp that would make a perfect late Christmas gift for the nerd in your life you’ve neglected and mistreated.