By Joe Keatinge, Leila Del Duca & Owen Gieni
Sometimes simplicity is the best choice. There were several good comics this week, many of which took full advantage of the medium’s potential for grand drama within sweeping settings. For its part, Shutter has offered up many similar thrills in the past. From the debut issue’s explosion which nearly killed its heroine to all manner of full-throttle action sequences populated by strange imaginative creatures, Shutter has never lacked a visceral charge. However, behind such bold style has beat a heart which has only grown more prominent as the series progressed. The current arc has been calmer on the physical mayhem front, but no less emotionally resonant. The arc began with a deeply evocative journey through the relationship between Kate and Huckleberry. Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca followed up that issue with a poignant examination of three lives affected by Kate’s father Christopher. At first glance, this week’s installment might appear to be a low-key transitional issue, when in fact it is quietly devastating.
Kate’s is currently laying low while planning to take on the conspiratorial Prospero, an organization with strong ties to Kate’s family. Part of Kate’s preparations is to gather together all of her several siblings, so that they might join forces. This is no easy task as many of them had not been aware of each other’s existence prior. In fact, one of them is entirely unknown. This issue, Kate listens to the story of Maieli, the first born child of Christopher. When Christopher was a young man, living in the isolating Swiss mountains, he met a young woman named Kathri (or “Kate” which suggests the origins of Christopher’s fondness for the name). They fell in love, yet reality (in the form of pregnancy) intruded. Kathri was smart, knowing the type of unconventional lifestyle Christopher was preparing to lead. So, no matter how much it pained them both, she broke off the relationship. And so the two went their separate ways.
Or did they? The world of Shutter is a fantastical place and Christopher finds an imaginative way to preserve a relationship with his and Kathri’s daughter, Maieli. Once again, though, time plays its tricks. No idyll can last forever. Christopher slips away before the open-mindedness of childhood is overtaken by the skeptical nature of adolescence. Yet, the sacrifice has its benefits as it allows Maieli to live her life in peace, away from the upheavals of the Christopher clan. Now, however, Kate wants to shatter than tranquility by recruiting Maieli to the fight against Prospero. The last part of the issue is taken up with Kate’s inner struggle over whether to follow-through with her decision or not. In the process, Keatinge delves into the legacy of the past, how seemingly small details (the name of an imaginary friend for example) might have echoes decades later.
Del Duca’s art for the series continues to shine. Her pensive Kate embodies the reflective nature of the narrative, conveying the story’s emotion with little or no dialogue. The previous two issues featured experimentation’s in visual storytelling and that is true of today’s chapter as well. For the flashback scenes, Del Duca adopts a more cartoonish manner, flattening her perspective and simplifying her line. The same contrast can be observed in how Owen Gieni’s colors shift between time-frames. In the back matter, Keatinge explains that he and Del Duca had been waiting for “the Absolute Right Time” to acknowledge the influence of Franco-Belgium comics on Shutter. However, the choice carries more weight than as merely a call out to others’ work. It fits naturally with the issue’s tale of youthful romance and heartbreak. The images might be less dense, but all the better for evoking the wide-eyed excitement of those days.
At the beginning of the issue, there is a double-page spread where young Christopher is being scolded. Despite this fact, the reader cannot help but losing themselves in the majestic background. Like a child, the reader registers the elements of grand adventure more immediately than any guardians’ warning. This poignant, unassuming blend of words and pictures is what makes Shutter This Week’s Finest.