Kickstarter Advance Review: Massive Mythology & Sci-Fi Action In JACIN AND THE OLYMPIANS

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From writer Shayne Berryhill (Chance Fortune and the Outlaws) and artist Mattia Monaco, and co-created by Alex Ogle and colorist Maja Opac, comes an all-audiences friendly Kickstarter graphic novel of massive proportions. Jacin And The Olympians is an immensely ambitious and entertaining read with tons of lore and infectious energy. With outstanding visuals and an intriguing setup, Jacin and the Olympians will be the Kickstarter to back before its release.

“In the near future, the titans of myth return, revealing the dark, alien truth behind their legend. The remnants of humanity escape aboard the Olympia, a spacefaring ark. Now, teen prodigy Jacin Mukai and her fellow Olympians search for a way to activate the robot Colossi, hoping to unite them to create their one hope for survival against the titan menace–the giant robot protector, Talos.”

*Critic’s Note*

I received a preview version of Jacin from the author. While it is a solid representation of what the graphic novel will be, it is not a finished product. I intend to appraise this book based on what I’ve seen and give my opinion on its current quality and how entertaining the finished product will be.

Writing & Plot

What Shayne Berryhill and Alex Ogle have created here feels like a mixture of a YA novel and a Toonami-era anime. Jacin and the Olympians’s opening sequence is exhilarating and is a familiar yet engaging introduction to the world and stakes. The fusion of Greek mythology and sci-fi/space opera is a delightful new experience. Jacin herself is a great young protagonist. Berryhill takes many of the gifted child tropes and throws them in a blender to craft a driven mad-genius of a teenage hero.

The Percy Jackson meets Star Wars meets Voltron feel emanates through every aspect of this book’s writing. This creates a couple of problems. First, there is a massive amount of lore and backstory that the reader is just thrown into. Second, each segment of the book was separated by an unspecified time jump that introduces new characters and concepts with no introduction. Again though, I received an unfinished preview version. This could easily just be an issue only I ever see. Regardless, the unique blending of mediums and styles keep this a delightful read on the storytelling side.

Art Direction

The most obvious draw upon first glance at Jacin And The Olympians is the incredible artwork. Mattia Monaco and Maja Opac create a visual experience that is stunningly detailed and energetic. Monaco’s pencils are reminiscent of the likes of James Stokoe or Daniel Warren Johnson. There’s an obvious manga/anime influence in his work. This makes itself especially apparent in his character and environmental designs. Every surface is laden with crosshatching, which gives it that 80’s worn future aesthetic. This is not to say that Monaco’s work is purely manga inspired. On the contrary, it’s a perfect fusion of eastern influences and western art direction.

Monaco’s character designs are intricately drawn love-letters to this comic’s named influences while still staying unique to this story. The massive blend of mythologic and space opera visuals are neatly tied together by the artistic vision. Monaco fuses 80’s-esque geometric designs with elements indescribably alien. His characters are expressive and all uniquely drawn in a way that will make them instantly recognizable in a crowded panel.

While much of the preview I received wasn’t colored yet, there was enough work completed that I can honestly say Maja Opac’s work here is equally spectacular. She matches Monaco’s aesthetic language by utilizing a dark vaporwave styles color palette. There are dark pinks and purples on almost every panel, punctuated by darkness. This creates the almost inescapable feeling of claustrophobia when living on a spaceship. This is interrupted however by the brightness the characters bring. Jacin herself is a sort of unspoken beacon of hope and progress. She lights up every panel she’s in. This could be a totally accidental effect, but regardless it is a delightful detail. This graphic novel has an infectious visual energy that is worth the price of admission on its own.

Verdict

Jacin And The Olympians is a unique and immensely enjoyable graphic novel. Shayne Berryhill and Alex Ogle have crafted a story that anyone can enjoy. This comic takes concepts from mythology and timeless space operas, wraps them in a Saturday morning cartoon and manga wrapper and succeeds in spades. The visuals from Mattia Monaco and Maja Opac are full of thoughtful detail and booming energy. This is a Kickstarter well worth backing, so make a pledge by September 12 to reserve a copy!

Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.