Parade (with Fireworks) #1 (Image Comics/Shadowline)

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paradeAn Italian family is torn apart by poltiical struggles in the aftermath of the Great War in the first part of this two-chapter historical epic from cartoonist Mike Cavallaro.

 

26 pgs. FC; $3.50

(W / A: Mike Cavallaro)

 

It's hard to pin this comic down. It's cute, violent, historical and political. None of those elements dominate the book, but they're never far from center stage.

 

Parade (with Fireworks) tells the story of a southern Italian family facing the rise of Fascism in the 1920s. The first of two issues sets up the characters and themes and still puts in enough action to keep the series from becoming a simple history lesson.

 

The cover to Parade (with Fireworks) #1 by Mike Cavallaro. Click thumbnail for a larger image.A story about a family gaining power in Italy could easily become a Godfather rip-off. But aside from similar scenery, the two stories are disparate. Parade addresses political themes and avoids organized crime, even though there are hints of gang involvement by the characters in Chicago.

 

In this first adventure, a group of fascists and a group of socialists walk with a marching band down the street. The fascists demand music, so the band plays a socialist anthem and a fight ensues. The conflict over what song to march to reflects the impending battle between socialists and fascists. (Historically, the fascists ultimately won.)

 

The story of the small fight representing larger issues works well, and if this is the parade the book's title refers to, issue two should provide a good conclusion to the story. If there's more than just this small story to tell, though, then this issue wastes a lot of pages on an exposition that could prove ultimately useless. As it stands, this book establishes characters and climate very well, while also building to a cliffhanger. If the next book is as good as this one, Cavallaro will have a great miniseries on his hands that addresses what many political graphic novels attempt to, only in a quarter as many pages.

 

Brevity in the face of complex issues isn't the only thing keeping Parade from being boring. Artistically, it's drawn like a great cartoon. The art is lively and fun, and could be compared at times to James Kochalka or animated series by Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter's Laboratory, Samurai Jack). The cartoon-ish art doesn't take away from the story, either. Panels are composed cinematically and, near the end of the story, experimentation with color and panel divisions set the book apart from other comics that explore the same themes or style.

 

Basically, Parade (with Fireworks) is a politically-charged cinematic cartoon action comic, and as far as those go, it's the best one I've ever read. | Gabe Bullard

 

See the related links below for a 5-page preview, courtesy of Image Comics and Shadowline!

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