*Review by contributor Lido Giovacchini
There’s a very thin line between interestingly weird and completely nonsensical and I call that line Cryptozoic Man. The comic seems to be a non-linear story with an incredibly unreliable narrator that is a semi-meditation on God as well as persisting urban legends or possibly some kind of visual metaphor for madness, it’s honestly hard to tell which. All of this makes Cryptozoic Man very difficult to review in single issue form as the story being set-up here really does feel like something that is leading towards some bigger revelation that would be better enjoyed in trade paper back form where you could just read all the way through the author’s vision in one sitting but we work with what we have so let’s take a look. One of the maddening things about Cryptozoic Man is that there are a lot of seemingly unrelated scenes simply thrown together within the book and it’s really hard to tell why the author felt the need to include them, again this goes by to the issue of not being able to see the author’s full vision with this issue and the question of what he’s really trying to say here. To wit Cryptozoic Man opens with a very sepia tone page of morally corrupt suburbia with some very purple narration. The narrator goes through the various residents of the neighborhood and how each of them is a different deadly sin and then enough of that scene.
Cryptozoic Man is peppered with scenes like this of overly verbose narration that doesn’t really convey much to the reader, weird and out of place biblical references like the seven deadly sins, and images that don’t seem to relate to a large story. Near as I can tell the actual story of Cryptozoic Man focuses around a man named Ostman whose daughter disappeared or more likely was abducted by gray aliens, who are also God in this universe. In any event Ostman was also abducted by the God-Aliens and mutated to become a hodgepodge of animal parts who looks suspiciously similar to the old Doom Patrol villain: Animal-Vegetable-Mineral-Man. Anyway the aliens mutated Ostman to be the champion of Earth against the hideous love child of Professor Pyg and Orion and his army of Spider-Pigs. Also other apparent guardians of Earth include Big Foot, the Mothman (as in The Mothman Prophecies), the abominable snowman, and El Chupacabra.
Again remember none of this is actually explained within the book, scenes are just thrown at the reader with the hope that you’ll follow along with them like this weird Pig Man character who has a pig gimp mask and an astro-harness with the telescopic eye from the 1950s adaptation of War of the Worlds isn’t actually established for us; the most we get to explain who or what Pig Man is, is a brief scene of a still human Ostman clutching his daughter’s piggy doll. This leads to my own theory that everything we’re seeing is actually just an elaborate visual metaphor for the Ostman character going insane over the loss of his daughter as that would really make more sense then anything else thrown at us in the comic. This is the thin line creators have to walk when it comes to emphasizing crazy weirdness in your comic is that the weirdness can’t just be thrown at the reader it has to be properly conveyed.
Telling a story is in essence just another form of communication and that’s the biggest failing of Cryptozoic Man: it can’t communicate its ideas. Unlike the issues of Ballistic I’ve reviewed I do get the genuine impression the authors of Cryptozoic Man really do have some genuinely creative and good ideas they’re desperately trying to get across to us but I really couldn’t tell you what those ideas are, they’ve been far too muddled under the disjointed narrative and verbose narration. This is a comic that really would’ve benefitted from having some character to act as the voice of reason but instead every character who does speak or narrate what’s happening seems to take a sadistic delight in keeping the audience completely in the dark to what is happening. I realize a strong mystery is essential to keep readers coming back every month but here just basic establishment of character and setting have been thrown to the wind in the name of weirdness and I really do think that was a mistake here as the weirdness just isn’t fascinating enough to really keep you engaged the way it would be if it was just a little bit more explained to us. Sorry to say it but I can’t recommend this one