By Robert Johnson Jr.
Arts & Features Editor
Here on Robbie’s Comic Corner, I feel like I don’t give enough love to the concept of blurbs.
Ah, blurbs – the things you read on the back of a book, just to get a sense of what, exactly, you’re about to get yourself into.
Usually, when it comes to the comics and graphic novels I feature in this column, I base my decision on the cover and the characters depicted on said cover.
While this graphic novel in particular roped me in with that alone, the blurb played a big role – “For this ragtag band of space gays, liberation means beating the patriarchy at its own game.”
I don’t think blurbs can get any better than that one right there, folks.
Hannah Templer’s “Cosmoknights” is a graphic novel that not only nails the first date, but absolutely dominates with infectious charm.
“Cosmoknights” follows the adventures of Pandora “Pan” Leverett, a mechanic who works in her father’s body shop. She is on a quest to find her best friend, Tara.
Unfortunately, Tara is up for marriage because she is a princess, and is taken out of Pan’s life, but Pan does her darndest to stop that from happening, only to get arrested.
Fast forward five years and the fun really begins to take off – literally.
On top of Pan’s mission to find Tara, readers are given a front row seat to the Greendale Games – a 40-man battle royale that decides the fate of the princess on display.
These sequences, which play out similar to an “American Gladiators”-like jaunt across an arena, is where the artistry of Templer truly shines. The action is fast and fluid, and the hits – when characters do get hit – carry a lot of impact.
These battles are mostly seen through the lens of two frequent Cosmoknights, Cassar “Bull” Gail and “Harrier,” as they eliminate fellow Cosmoknights left and right. However, a player by the name of “Jaws” acts as a thorn in Bull’s side, whose attack in the early parts of the graphic novel puts Bull in critical condition.
That’s where Pan and her family come in. The two, previously armored, male-identified individuals – according to the commentators of the Greendale Games – stumble through the doors of Pan’s home, and are revealed to the reader as female-identified stars of the joust.
Gosh, I’m always a sucker for cool, armored people being buff ladies underneath who also happen to be wives. That’s why Darling Charming from “Ever After High” was always one of my favorite characters.
All that gushing aside, Pan quickly befriends “Bull” and “Harrier” – referred to as Cass and Bee, outside of the jousts – and begins to discover more about them and the Games. Their mission is to “free” the princesses who are up for marriage in those jousting events.
What makes “Cosmoknights” so special is not just the stylistic violence compared to that of “Anarchy Reigns” or the political backstory of the games themselves, it’s the artistic flourish and gripping storytelling Templer puts into it.
Every page is beautifully drawn, with mesmerizing gradients and bright colors. Templer’s use of double-page spreads is brilliant – using them to convey the vastness of space and moments of intensity where everything is just blowing up around the characters.
Speaking of characters, everyone in “Cosmoknights,” even the bad guy, “Jaws,” is likable. Cass is my favorite character, by far – she’s strong and she knows it, but underneath that hulking exterior is an emotional, caring individual. Templer does a wonderful job at giving these characters personality.
In spite of the hefty offering that “Cosmoknights” gives readers already, that’s only the first book and more of it is coming. I cannot wait to see where Templer brings this series next with Top Shelf Productions.