Writer: Frank Gibson
Penciller: Becky Dreistadt
Inker: Kelly Bastow
Colourists: Tracy Liang, Joseph Bergin III, Lin Visel, Becky Dreistadt, Katy Farina
Letterer: Britt Wilson
Publisher: Boom! Studios
A review by Sean Frankling
Based on the cover, visual design, plot synopsis and title of Capture Creatures, you might assume it’s a Pokemon spoof. Well, it is. But it’s a pretty good one.
Capture Creatures grabs you right out of the gate with character designs that jump off the page. Not just for the titular creatures, but for the human characters, too. Becky Dreistadt’s art brings the cast to life. The scrappy little girl glows with a heartfelt drive to adventure. The neurotic park ranger practically jitters off the page. Even the quiet, dorky sidekick exudes an understated charm. Together, the three make a charming squad as they investigate the mysterious new species appearing on a supposedly environmentally devastated island.
But as our heroes set out to explore, it’s the wildlife they find there that steals the spotlight. This book is populated with designs so clever the Pokemon team will be kicking themselves for not thinking of them first. Particular stars include a deer with wax-dripping candelabra antlers and quails whose curlicue feathers light like matches. You could say this creative team has a flare for the fire types. Between those awesome creatures and the gorgeously painted environments, Capture Creatures‘ world fairly jumps off the page.
There seems to be a lot more going on under the story’s surface than first meets the eye, too. The titular creatures pop up unexplained in a section of coastline where scientists are struggling to rebuild the ecosystem after an unnamed catastrophe. Then there are the shady masked figures who already seem to have experience with taming the monsters. As a result, Capture Creatures builds a strong element of intrigue into its world building. That makes for an interesting twist on the classic collect-and-battle Pokemon formula.
All this makes for an interesting set-up to a bouncy, adorable comic, but Capture Creatures does have a couple of flaws in its execution. The creators seem to leave a lot of the action off-panel in some crucial spots. This looks like it might be a result of cutting panels to fit action scenes to their pages. Alternatively, it could be a fondness for close-up frames where a couple of wide shots would help establish scene geography better.
The results, though, are moments where characters seem to appear out of nowhere, or the heroes escape danger through an exit that wasn’t visible before. It’s enough to make you reread the same page three or four times, thinking you must have missed some crucial detail. That’s a shame for this all-ages comic. If I’m occasionally losing track of what’s happening as a grown adult, this could be a tricky one for kids to read.
Wait and See. Pokemon drops its audience into the middle of a different world and tells them to explore. Capture Creatures seems more interested in showing you how that world came to be. It doesn’t finish delivering on those promises in this volume, but if we can hope for a sequel, it has the potential to be a fascinating spin on a classic formula. If these creators can overcome their difficulties in conveying those tricky action scenes, it will be a superbly well-told one, too.