10 May 2012

Review: The Castaways

The Castaways
Written by Rob Vollmar
Art by Pablo G. Callejo
Date of Publication: 12 March 2007
Cover Price: $17.95
74 pages

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I returned Blackest Night to the library and browsed around, and this caught my eye. I flaked out in a very comfortable chair for about 40 minutes or so and read it on the spot. The back of the book text suggests it owes its literary roots to Twain among others and it's easy to see why. In a lot of ways, The Castaways is a redressed telling of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Pablo G. Callejo's artwork is responsible for a lot of what works best in The Castaways, from establishing its environment to creating sympathetic characters in Tucker and, to a lesser extent, Elijah. It's a pretty obvious story, right down to its feel-good ending, but when we see Tucker's heart breaking it's nearly impossible to not want to reach through the page and just hold that little boy and console him somehow.

The Widow is a powerful antagonist, and she works particularly well as a study in self-righteous hypocrisy masquerading as piety. My lot in life has been better than some, but certainly less advantageous than many. I found her harsh words about worthlessness stung me quite harshly. Rarely have I felt such animosity toward a fictitious character, so kudos to writer Rob Vollmar for getting under my skin that way.

Also, I appreciated the distinctions made between a hobo, tramp and bum. They tend to all be treated as synonymous words today, but it was nice to be reminded that there were (and, I suppose, are) differences between the three and their ambitious and attitudes. It was a nice attention to detail that I appreciated.

Still, the story is rather predictable and its treatment of racial issues - while admirable - is similarly simplistic. Callejo's artwork benefits tremendously from the high quality paper of this volume, and it's certainly a handsome work, but I cringed when I discovered its cover price is a staggering $17.95! I could not honestly say I feel the story lives up to that price tag.

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