Since subscribing to Comic Bento, I have rekindled a taste for paper graphic novels. I don’t mind ebooks for most works, but I’m not fond of how my Kindle works with comics. But sometimes I wonder what I’ll do when Comic Bento sends me something I already have.
Then I’ll get a box and see I have nothing to worry about just yet.
Anyhoo, this month’s theme is “Animal Planet,” and first out of the box was something from Oni called Xoc: The Jounrey of a Great White Shark.
Xoc is basically exactly what it says on the cover. A female great white shark referred to as “Xoc” migrates for reasons she doesn’t understand from the coast of California to the coast of Hawaii, with a leatherback sea turtle as a companion for most of the trip. Xoc doesn’t particularly care if the turtle is there or not, but mostly she can’t be bothered to eat the turtle anyway.
By the by, “xoc” we are told is the Mayan word for “shark” and that would possibly be where the English word was derived from.
Despite the fact the animals talk and can communicate with each other, this isn’t a cute book. Writer/artist Matt Dembicki is showcasing all the sights and dangers that Xoc will have to face on her journey to Hawaii and back. And while some of that danger comes from other sea animals, most notably a pod of dolphins and the occasional killer whale, the biggest danger and wonder come from humans. Human pollution and poaching is a real problem for both Xoc and the turtle, and between the two of them they largely know what to avoid.
But Xoc is still a shark, which means she does tend to eat other animals when she can. The story opens with Xoc and some other great whites more or less decimating a pod of seals, and the lead seal who managed to get many of the others killed has a flash of first bravado and later of guilt. That sort of thing is the closest the book comes to making the characters “human”.
For what it was, the book was good, largely educational, and a little depressing about what people are doing to our oceans. It’s hard not to see, for example, the garbage island as anything but a travesty. Eight out of ten dead sharks used as bait for other, living sharks.
NEXT: Well, every time Comic Bento has sent me something from Aspen, it gets a little better than the one before it. Maybe I’ll actually like Homecoming, though for the life of me I can’t tell what the “animal” connection is to this one.