This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Voracious.
This week I wanted to take a look at a series that I think epitomizes what this column is about: a great comic book series or story that too few people have read. Published by Action Lab, Voracious is written by Markisan Naso and drawn by Jason Muhr, with the co-creators being joined by colourist Andrei Tabucaru, and can usually grab your attention with the shortest of descriptions: “time travelling chef makes dinosaur sandwiches.”
It sounds awesome, right? Well, that’s because it is.
In an ideal world, that’s really all you would need to rush out and buy the two trade paper back collections (Diners, Dinosaurs & Dives and Feeding Time), but it can be tough to buy two trades wholly on those words – I get that. I really do. Look, it’s no secret that Voracious is one of my favourite series to come out in the last couple of years (you can find the reviews for most of the comics in the two miniseries under this search), and it’s one of the few that I’ll buy in floppy form after reading the review copies – and it’s the only one that I also buy the TPBs as well.
You see, I put my money where my mouth is because Voracious is a wonderful breath of fresh air in an industry that has been choking on relaunches and rehashes; the five issues that make up Feeding Time are some of the highest scored comics that I have reviewed for Graphic Policy. Voracious does have an awesome elevator pitch, but that’s not what draws me into the series (though it certainly helped).
After only nine comics (technically ten, but the first issue was a double sized comic) Markisan Naso has become one of Those writers who has earned my complete and utter trust; I will probably buy anything that he puts out from this point on. Aside from having an excellent music taste, Naso has an ability to give a unique voice to his characters that when combined with Jason Muhr’s artistic ability allows you to understand all you need to know about a character within a page or two at most. Yes, there are deeper layers to the people you’re watching navigate their lives on the page, and they’re expertly revealed as the series progresses in a way that you’re never really subjected to an-out-of-left-field moment that takes you out of the story because of a character’s actions because of how well developed they are; you won’t be shocked at the actions of the people in the comic because it all seems so in character for them once you understand their motivations.
As with any well written story featuring time travel you hope the visuals measure up to the intricacies of the story, and oh boy do they ever.
Jason Muhr is a brilliant visual story teller; there are so many brilliant double page spreads where his talents shine, and yet some of my favourite moments are the ones where Muhr focuses in on the emotions playing across the face of the character he is drawing; obviously I want to avoid significant spoilers so I’m not showing you as many pages from later issues, which is a disservice to both you and Muhr because as the series progressed he really found his groove.
If you’re tired of reading about superheroes fighting each other and you want a story to take you across the emotional spectrum without the use of glowing rings then you need look no further. While the comic is about a time traveling, dinosaur hunting chef, it’s also a powerful look into what makes us who we are and how. It’s a story about mistakes and loss, and most importantly coping with those things.
Voracious is the best comic you’ve never read, so change that. I haven’t heard a singe person I’ve made read the book complain in anyway. This story is what comics are all about; a masterpiece of visual story telling that couldn’t be told any other way even half as effectively as it is in comic form.
Now, excuse me while I go and read both trades again.
If you want more Voracious, then you can check out the episode of GP Radio where we talked all about the dinosaur sandwiches with both Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr.
Unless the comics industry ceases to exist this week, Underrated will return next week.