[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Keepers of the Maser 1: The 2nd Moon by Italian creator Frezatto is a rare treasure for two reasons. First, it’s exceedingly hard to find. But, to me, that makes it attractive. I relish the hunt. Digging through boxes, running my fingers along moldering shelves and quizzing the bespectacled clerk behind the counter, in search of the rare and the beautiful, makes me happy. And second, the story summoned such an endorphin-fueled rush of nostalgia in me that I’m eager to read the rest of the story.
Soon after I opened the book, I felt a tickling deep inside my brain, reminding me of those chance moments as a child when I’d find an old coverless comic book, telling me a story that I was too young to understand. Stories that opened windows into worlds of wonder and beauty that still resonate to this day. Or, even better, I’d catch a few fleeting minutes of an animated movie, so unlike the pedestrian, toy-shilling animated adventures on TV. Movies like Rock & Rule, The Last Unicorn, and what I eventually figured out was Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. And there are still faded bits and pieces of comics and cartoons that I only saw once as a child, still knocking about in my head. I feel like Frezatto knocked a few of these memories loose and I hope to recover some of them.
Frezatto’s art is vivacious and voluptuous, painted in comforting earth tones while maintaining a strong sense of design and cartoonish charm. It’s so many things at once but always cohesive. You can feel the movement, hear the sound effects, and imagine the soundtrack. It has all the energy of a movie, without being a movie.
The world of The Keepers of the Maser is peopled with odd men and women, but I only need mention three.
Zerit is a crusty old pilot in search of scrap iron and the ever-elusive Tower (more on the Tower in a minute). He’s a good pilot, sometimes. He can fly, drive and steer any vehicle in the world but only for so long. Every journey, not matter how short, ends in a crash. But that doesn’t stop Zerit. It’s like he’s used to it. And maybe it’s not his fault? The world he lives in is post-apocalyptic, but it’s more idyllic than apocalyptic. Because the ways of technology were lost years ago, everything is in disrepair. Maybe that’s why everything keeps falling apart on Zerit? Though, he…encourages this destruction by making poor choices.
Fango is a lazy layabout. Doing as little as he can in order to survive. He has it pretty good, living in his island compound, arguing with his robot, and tinkering with a good-sized stockpile of technology.
Erha is Zerit’s daughter and it’s her job to find Zerit because he left on his most recent journey before a vital piece of technology was uncovered; a device that contains a map to the Tower. But time is short. The magnetic field of the moon is messing with the device. If they don’t find the Tower soon, they may never find it, so Erha sets off to find her father. She doesn’t get much screen time in this volume, but I’m guessing she’ll be more important in future volumes. The prophetic dreams she has the night before she leaves show us how important she is.
The story starts with Zerit flying over the ocean, searching for scrap iron (The search for the Tower is more of a long-term goal), using a Chihuahua-sized beetle that can smell iron and lead him to it. The beetle is attached to his Owl (Picture a truck-sized flying anime motorcycle with the huge stylized face of an owl at the front) by a hundred-yard long leash. The beetle leads Zerit to Fango’s island, where he and Fango undergo a series of misadventures while Zerit tries to steal Fango’s robot. Zerit is convinced that the robot contains information about the whereabouts of the Tower and they eventually, begrudgingly, start working together.
The running battle/chase scene between Zerit and Fango is beautifully painted. There are several panels, and several pages, that are gorgeous paintings in their own right. It may sound a bit odd, but it’s almost worth finding this book just to see how exquisitely Frezatto paints the water as it rises in crests and waves during the chase. It’s all just so wonderful. I can still feel the buzz of childlike excitement.
The world of The Keepers of the Maser is post-apocalyptic but fun. It never feels dark or dangerous. Even when the characters are in jeopardy, you envy their chance to experience such comedic peril.
The Keepers of the Maser 1: The 2nd Moon has a 9 out of 10 chance of waking Cthulhu from his eternal slumber.