After fulfilling a promise in Las Vegas, Blacksad finds himself spiritually and financially broke. After one last dirty job, he returns home to seek out an old friend, little did he know that this visit would lead straight to the beginnings of World War III! With both his personal and newfound romantic interests in jeopardy, Blacksad steps up to catch an apostate within the Twelve Apostles of bohemian counterculture in order save his friend and stop an H-Bomb from dropping. No matter what, everyone deserves a second chance.
Something I’ve never fully expressed or even realised in previous volumes of Blacksad is the psychological game the artwork plays on the readers mind. With it’s pleasantly cartoonish and bright characters, readers are initially met with a child-like fable or a safe zone. The introduction of real-life hardships brought upon these lovable characters creates a split in the reader’s perception, ultimately upping the tension of the series. In simpler terms, Guarnido manages to show animals in grim jeopardy and it’s beautifully ugly to look at.
The beauty of Blacksad: Red Soul is in it’s finer details. What initially appears to be just a wonderfully picturesque backdrop for the story to play out on top of, reveals itself to be coded with deeper trauma and irony. Emotional baggage can be found in every nook and cranny.
Do I really need to reiterate how good Canales is at his storytelling and dialogue? Yes, but more so I want to because Canales is really good at harsh storytelling and writing realistically witty dialogue. While Arctic Nation was viscerally dark in it’s subject matter of racism, Red Soul instead is virtuosic in it’s political doomsday commentary, as well as the battle between social norms and counterculture. That being said, you don’t need to fully grasp the convoluted details of 50s America (like me) to understand and appreciate the story as it is all laced between brilliantly impassioned storytelling.
A subdued but beautifully intricate theme that Canales incorporates into the Blacksad series is the character’s affinity for Jazz music. In Arctic Nation while in the comfort of his home, the chillingly sour lyrics of Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday circle the room and his mindset. Conversely In Red Soul, the smitten kitten Blacksad is entranced by the swooning words of That Old Black Magic by the smoothly soothing Ella Fitzgerald. Their relevance to the comics is both haunting and satisfying, almost as if the stories themselves were inspired directly by the songs or vice versa.
In conclusion, Blacksad: Red Soul is a ticking time bomb of a comic with an explosive finale, not in it’s virtuosic and gorgeous artistry throughout but in it’s tense and sultry writing. As always, new characters and old are along for the party, each with their own story to tell before we realise whodunnit.
A heated subject matter to curl up with in comparison to the cold and callous Arctic Nation but nevertheless engaging and dark in it’s own nuclear subject matter.
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