KAFKA by Steven T. Seagle & Stefano Gaudino
Comics writer Steven T. Seagle has a wide range of stories and genres he works in, as well as doing regular superhero comics. He’s also part of the group of writers that has given viewers Ben 10, Generator Rex, and – one of my current favorites – Ultimate Spider-Man. He also had a great run on DC’s latest incarnation of House of Secrets and Sandman Mystery Theater.
Kafka is definitely one of his stranger stories. I’m not really sure whether to label it a suspense story or urban fantasy. Certainly Dan Hutton’s story is a hybrid of those things, with a dash of noir thrown in to season the pot.
The story, on the surface, is a spy tale. Dan Hutton was recruited by the CIA, then given powers to affect the way others perceived reality. Unfortunately, his success also led him getting recognized by the villains he’d worked again. As a result, he had to go into a witness relocation plan and leave his wife behind.
The story moves pretty quickly and the page breakdowns show the action and the atmosphere pretty well (rain, England, other settings). The heavy inking on the black and white illustrations brings a lot of weight to the pages. For some reason, the decision was made to render Hutton’s memories in color, which actually seems backward. The art gets the story down on the pages, but seems underdeveloped a lot of the time too. The characters are so loosely drawn that I had trouble at times differentiating them.
Although the action is central to the story and the pacing is good, there’s really not much story in some respects. Hutton isn’t completely fleshed out and I never really warmed up to him. In addition, his ability to change his identity in an eyeblink telegraphed the ending while at the same time becoming a rather large plot hole because I had trouble believing some of the switches he was able to accomplish.
Kafka is an entertaining read, but not really a memorable one.