So Victor- who hates this book, asked me write a response to the previous post/review written by Joana who also hated it, because I liked the book.
Sadly. Joana’s review isn’t an actual review; it’s an antagonistic retort to the many glowing reviews with the added feature of a gratuitous snarky chip on its shoulder. Joana trips and labors through the entire book hating this and yawning at that; expecting us to nod in equally bored agreement. Her most utterly dumbfounding repeated criticisms of the twin/dualism/or as she labels it the “ying yang” elements seem to imply that she didn’t get that the name and title: Asterios Polyp is a pseudonym for mythical Greek twins Castor and Pollux. As she might put it- Joana SEEKS to write a BAD review of Asterios Polyp and it is in that determination, limitation, and islolation that she undermined the actual possibility of creating a credible argument against it. This is unfortunate because there a couple of good observations buried in the bitter smugness.
Asterios Polyp. buy it, it's well worth it.
After ten years in the making Asterios Polyp confirms that Mazzucchelli has become master of his craft. After rereading it, I found myself in awe of the technical craft and the lingering grace of the sequential storytelling. This is a rare book that embraces the comic medium and challenges many of its worn conventions. Open to any random page and it is hard not to marvel at the fluidity of design and pacing. (Check some out here)
The book follows the title character on his journey of personal loss and discovery. There is a prevalent theme of dualism; which manifests itself in multiple elements through out the entire story. This is reflected in the character design– Asterios is always drawn with a symmetrical head shape in which both sides are constant. His name, as stated above- Asterios Polyp is a pseudonym of Castor and Pollux- the twins of Greek mythology. Twins of the same mother but different fathers; one father a god and the other human. One brother immortal the other very much mortal- this is smartly illustrated as Asterios hauntingly contemplates his dead stillborn twin Ignazio. In many ways Asterios is similar to the mythical ancient Greek heroes- Smart, strong, respected, but ultimately flawed by his own absolutism. As with every great Greek myth, the core of this story is a romantic tragedy. Asterios meets, falls in love, marries, and because of his own adamant pathos loses Hana- his polar opposite and soul mate. With his loved lost and his kingdom burning around him, he escapes and embarks on the hero’s journey to discover himself and confront his own failings and hopefully win her back.
It is true, David Mazzucchelli sought to create a great graphic novel and has achieved exactly that thankfully, because the world is full of mediocre ones.
But don’t just take my word for it- these guys liked it too.
New York Times Book Review
New York Magazine
The L.A. Times
Mark Seigal, First Second