I for the most part really enjoyed David Mazzuchelli’s graphic novel Asterios Polyp (Pantheon, $29.95, 2009). Mazzuchelli, of course, is best known as the artist who collaborated with Frank Miller on Batman: Year One and Daredevil: Reborn, among other 1980s efforts at Marvel and DC Comics, before moving on to his own series Rubber Blanket.
This thick novel tells the tale of a divorced, pompous architecture professor who runs away from his life when his apartment catches on fire. It’s a beautiful looking book, drawn in a simple style suited to what’s accepted for a literary graphic novel, making nice use of colored line work in particular to create a lovely effect.
As for the story, I found myself very much drawn into the first half of the book and then drifting away from it as the plot seemed to stall in favor of a more episodic approach. The eponymous protagonist goes from a complex mystery to a rather human but mundane character. The story never really delivers on its most interesting element — the idea that Polyp is followed by what is essentially the ghost of a twin brother who died in the womb. The tale failed to achieve the kind of breakthrough character development that it promises early on, heading to an unfortunately predictable though not completely unsatisfying resolution.