Review Day Tuesday: The Ballad of Pluto

During Genghis Con (yes, that’s its name) last year, I got to meet Roan, the artist behind The Ballad of Pluto. As of this writing, it doesn’t have a webcomic equal. You can only get it in print. That said, volume 1 is out now, and you can get the book wherever Roan makes a convention appearance. (Check his Facebook page for updates on that.)

The Ballad of Pluto is the story of the planets of our solar system as people. So Pluto’s a person, the Moon is a person, etc. In fact, Pluto is a shepherd in the Outer Orbits. And his poor herd keeps getting attacked.

By what? He doesn’t know. But he suspects that whoever attacked his animals has a connection to what made him lose his status as a planet.

Volume 1 is the story of Pluto ‘s adventure into “the Inner Orbits” to get some answers. In this comic, the Inner Orbits are illustrated as a town. Don’t think too hard about how the planets can escape their orbits to congregate in a town and do business.

Part of the charm of reading this comic is seeing how the characters are drawn and fleshed out as a result of the lore. One of the details that made me laugh is that Earth (in the book called Eorde) says, “Let me just check my satellites.” …And she opens a laptop labeled NASA. That’s charming as heck.

Also, I need to give some major props to integrating agender representation, but not in a forced way. See, the Earth’s Moon (Lune, in the book) is vouching for Pluto so he can walk around town unmolested by Mars’ guards. Later, it’s revealed that Lune was once so powerful that they were almost queen of the solar system.

To which Pluto says, “Queen? So are you…?”

And Lune says, “That was a just a title. I have no gender.”

And all Pluto says in reply is, “Oh.” And the story continues.

Agender representation, and the plot doesn’t have to stop to talk about it. That’s how you do it.

I’m interested to see how the Moons of the solar system play in the story – there’s definitely some tension with Lune. They had so much power before the other planets of the solar system became known and joined the Council. So now that Lune is Eorde’s assistant, you get the impression that they’re a tad bitter about it. I want to see how that plays out.

The art, as well, is GORGEOUS. My only complaint is in regards to the lettering. For the most part, it works. Although…

When a character says something in a whisper or as a quip, the words are not in a speech bubble. This is a call-back to manga as an artistic influence, which is fine…usually. But the text is in color. And so is the background. So it can be hard to read that text at times.

The only other critique I have for the book is more meta: the book is in full color, sure. It’s not a standard comic size, but it’s also not magazine-size, either. It’s 44 pages, and that includes covers.

So why is the book $20?

Is this a cost-per-issue to print problem? Is it that the printer who made this book doesn’t specialize in comics? I find that latter question likely. There were pages that either cut off portions of speech balloons, or were not cut to bleed. Thus allowing paper margins to show.

(Roan, I know some comic book printers if you need to find a new guy to print your stuff with. Printers who specialize in comics and don’t charge a boatload to print. Email me!)

It’s a shame, because this is a darn good book to read! I can’t wait to read the rest of the story! But $20 for a 44 page comic is a bit much, even by comic standards. If a book is going to cost $20, it should have double that page amount, if not more.

But that’s one person’s opinion.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

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