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Far Arden

by Kevin Cannon

Publisher: Top Shelf

Format: Hardcover, black and white, $19.95

ISBN: 978-1-60309-036-0

Reviewed by: Publishers Weekly

In this fanciful tale set in arctic Canada, disparate characters struggle to find a mythic paradise island, Far Arden. Despite far-fetched aspects like the evil, bureaucracy-controlled Royal Canadian Arctic Navy, a half-man/half–polar bear and a conniving university professor of psychology, the story becomes mundane through the intertwining character relations and attention to detail in constructing the world. The protagonist, a stoic, rugged arctic pirate, Army Shanks, searches for the island to reunite with his mentor, Simon Arctavis, but is hindered by old acquaintances and ill-fortune. Slowly, the reader becomes immersed in this alternate arctic world. Commonplace and strange are fused, as rants on the dangers of global warming transition into a battle with a polar bear. The thick crosshatched backgrounds and simple fluid characters further ground the story. As the entwined pasts of Army, his ex, her current husband, a college couple and an orphan bent on revenge for his father’s murder are revealed, entwining pasts become clear and the full range of this engrossing story is revealed.