Cleopatra in Space: The Thief and the Sword
Cleopatra in Space: The Thief and the Sword follows up last year’s Target Practice. I thought that volume was light on story, and I feel the same way about this book. I guess it’s about time I realize that while Mike Maihack draws terrific action sequences, I shouldn’t expect much more than that from this series.
For instance, The Thief and the Sword starts with a 20-page chase sequence in which a new character, the thief of the title, defeats a bunch of guards while breaking into a secured location. I have no idea who this person is or how they relate to any of the story so far. To me, it feels like a waste of time, but then, I don’t get lost in the art — attractive as it is — if there isn’t a substantial story for me to care about. Others likely feel different, since it is an exciting sequence in staging and pacing.
The overall story pacing, though, is glacial. There’s a long party scene that’s imaginative in design but establishes very little about the characters. (We already knew that Cleo craves action and her friend Akila wants to make sure everyone’s having a good time.) There are two guys introduced there — one of whom is a walking plot encyclopedia, explaining new revelations to the readers — and the other of whom may mean something later, but not yet in this book. Maihack is good at introducing threads and cliffhangers that hang for a long while.
When characters do talk, it’s lots of chatter about things that will presumably be important later in the story, although I tend to lose interest while waiting for them. For example, we kept hearing in book one about how Cleo was fated to be really important, but it takes another half of this book to get any details on that. I tend not to care much about stories, anyway, that feature solo heroes finding their predetermined mission based on a fated prophecy. They’re too old-school for me.
Clearly, I’m not the right audience for this book. If you like a series of well-cartooned action sequences, you might be.
I have only read the FCBD issue of Cleopatra so this may not apply, but it struck me as a great series for my five-and-a-half-year-old nephew. Light plot won’t bother him too much, and the mix of a historical figure (whom he’s probably not yet learned about) and a female protagonist are good for him.