Review – Blacksad: Arctic Nation
Blacksad puts himself in the crossfire of a visceral race war within The Line, a decrepit district of New York. Being a black and white cat is a dangerous thing to be when stuck between the Arctic Nation and Black Claws gang, but Blacksad is willing to go the distance in order to save the life of a kidnapped child torn from childhood. Not for the faint of heart, Animal Farm meets A Time to Kill in Blacksad’s coldest case yet.
Guarnido’s artwork throughout Blacksad: Arctic Nation is comparable to every detective noir novel cover you’ve ever seen; hyper detailed with an aged complexion of scarred stoicism and brooding nihilism. Simultaneously and in contrast, underneath this cold and dark exterior is hearty anthropomorphic artistry, comparable to early Disney animation with carefully crafted and exaggeratedly expressive characters.
As if the subject matter itself wasn’t enough to earn this comic it’s R rating, Guarnido looks to offend your eyes with equally scarring imagery of white supremacy, among other things best left unsaid. Regardless of the subject matter, the artwork throughout is wholly and undeniably masterful.
Canales, in my humble opinion, has cemented himself as one of the greatest noir writers of all time with Blacksad. With a deep understanding of the genre, he manages to poke fun at the clichés while maintaining his own brilliant brand of gritty detective allegories by pushing the envelope further than his predecessors; that is by putting anthropomorphic animals into the stained shoes of the human condition. Orwell would be proud!
With the comic’s original publisher being the French company Dargaud, the English translation at times can be a little askew which is forgivable, though there is one speech bubble that is just totally in French for some reason. That being said, the dialogue and storytelling do not suffer one bit with it’s pure poetry and tragic realism burned into an unapologetic apologue.
In conclusion, Blacksad: Arctic Nation is a paragon in the world of comic books and even noir novels that is sure to fluctuate your core temperature throughout. Dialogue is dripping with poetic prowess and melodramatic magnificence while the artwork pulls your heart strings back and forth with it’s adorably industrious mythology eclipsed by a painfully relevant avalanche of reality.
To reiterate, this is not for the faint of heart and has garnered a harsh R rating for it’s various subject matters. If you can brave the cold of Blacksad: Arctic Nation, you’ll be rewarded with a one of a kind comic experience that will stay with you forever. A brilliantly harrowing crime story worthy of your attention.
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