by David Mazzucchelli
If you know the name David Mazzucchelli from anything other than this book, chances are you know him from his collaborations with Frank Millers. Most prominently in Batman: Year One and Daredevil: Born Again. Two great books (that I’ll hopefully review in the future) but stand no comparison to the magnum opus that is Asterios Polyp. A real masterpiece that will amaze any fan of the medium with its style and many, many layers.
Released in 2009 as an original graphic novel it was received tremendously well. Not only did it win three Harvey awards in the following year, but it also won three Eisner awards. Including best new graphic album and best writer/artist. How’s that for a reason to go read it right now?
Asterios Polyp is, simply put, the tale of a man struggling with himself and coming to terms with his own flaws and those of others. The story is told over two main timelines, the one in the past is narrated by Asterios’ dead twin, Ignazio, who died at birth. After which Asterios never felt quite whole. As if a piece of himself got lost.
I’ve never loved and disliked a character as much as I do Asterios. He is egotistical, self-absorbed and has no eyes for anyone else. Yet through his struggles you can’t help but sympathize with him and root for him. Let it be an asset to Mazzucchelli’s storytelling that you will stick with this unloveable character for 344 pages and love every minute of it.
And that’s where the real beauty of this book lays; in the storytelling. Mazzucchelli proves himself to be a true master of the medium. He plays with things that would seem trite if used by others, like the different fonts for each character. And he does these things seemingly without effort and with great elegance. From the different drawing styles to the use of color, everything in Asterios Polyp has meaning and purpose. And that’s not even mentioning all the references and symbolism in the written text. These elements make this book very re-readable and rewarding.
I could keep going on and on for pages but I’m a sucker for these type of formalist books with numerous layers. If you consider yourself a fan of comic books and comic book storytelling you should definitely take a look at Asterios Polyp. The whole package is superb. It won’t let you down, I guarantee.
(And a tip, have some annotations by your side when you read it the second time. Really worth it!)
Please check out a preview here.
I rate it: 5/5
Print: hardback, 344p 5/5