Luna Park (DC/Vertigo)

lunapark-header.jpgNew York Times best-selling author Kevin Baker (of "New York, City of Fire" trilogy fame) tells the story of a Russian soldier that spans decades and continents, with help from the enchanting art of Danijel Zezelj (Loveless).

 

 

160 pgs. full color; $24.99 hardcover

(W: Kevin Baker; A: Danijel Zezelj)

 

Luna Park is a well-crafted story whose narrative is buttressed by solid and enchanting art. The story is written by Kevin Baker, author of the famous "New York, City of Fire" trilogy (Dreamland, Paradise Alley, and Striver’s Row), with art by Danijel Zezelj (El Diablo and Loveless, both with writer Brian Azzarello). I’m not usually a fan of graphic novels, but occasionally a writer and an artist come together to create a wonderful, cutting, and unique merging of the two, and Luna Park does that. Luna Park’s story is an amalgamation of different situations reflecting outward in time and coming back to rest around two main characters: Alik, a former Russian solder turned addict and enforcer for the Brooklyn mob, and Marina, his prostitute/fortune teller girlfriend. The story takes part in many places: the boardwalks of Coney Island, Russia, the beaches of WWI, and the empty apartments of drug users.

The story holds a good narrative pace and doesn’t fold in on itself the way most stories of this nature do. I think the best measuring stick of a graphic novel is whether or not the story is strong enough that it could be stripped of its art and remain upright by itself. Luna Park could. Don’t let me direct you away from the art, however, for it is well done, and in a style reminiscent of Zak Smith’s work (specifically his project focused around Thomas Pynchon’s famous novel Gravity’s Rainbow). Dave Stewart’s choice of colors together with Zezelj’s framing both clarify the written story and tell the story itself. Storyboard would be a cheap word to explain the clarity of direction the pictures create, so instead I’ll say they are a visual confirmation of internal truths prevalent in the characters, and by extension, the story.

I suggest picking up a copy of Luna Park. It is an absorbing read, and one filled with pathos, power, and pity. | Jesse Gernigin

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