Monday, May 7, 2012

Four Eyes Volume 1: Forged in Flames by Joe Kelly


This gorgeous graphic novel is a scorched and smoking slice of revisionist history: the Great Depression with dragons.  It is 1934 and most of New York City is suffering the hunger, cold, and fear that comes with unemployment and a failing economy.  Underground dragon fighting has made a few men into emperors while the rest of the city starves.  Young Enrico Savarese becomes the man of the house after watching his father die at work - stealing a baby dragon.  Soon the dragon money runs out and Enrico must work to take care of his mama after he chases their boarder (and main source of income) out of the apartment at knife point.  Enrico seeks out Mr. Boccioni, his father’s old boss and declares himself ready to hunt dragons - after all, a dragon killed his father.  But the world is rarely as simple as it seems and lost inside the dragon’s cave - alone and scared - Enrico will discover who the real enemy is.

Exquisitely drawn and colored, Four Eyes expertly evokes the grit and grime of Depression-era New York.  Enrico’s quest for work, and his terrifying job at the DoReMe steel factory offer the reader a glimpse into the reality faced by many children in tough economic times.  The allure of dragon-fighting in this context, with its echoes of illegal dog fighting and gambling rings, is easily understood.  This is the first volume in the series, which includes issues 1-4 of the comic.  --Regan Schwartz

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