Captain Gravity and the Power of the Vril

Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2007
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Captain Gravity and the Power of the Vril Writer(s): Joshua Dysart
Artist(s): Sal Velluto, Mike Garcia
Publishers: Penny Farthing Press Inc
From: USA
Price: US $ 19.95

At twenty bucks this graphic novel represents a fairly substantial investment on the part of the reader. So what do you get for your bucks? In short you get a lot. 193 pages of beautifully drawn and coloured pages presented in a totally professional format complete with an embossed cover. A plot that is multi- layered yet also very accessible and at the same time an accurate and fascinating insight into a time past.

Yes it is expensive but it is also high quality. This graphic novel collects the ‘Captain Gravity and the Power of the Vril’ story arc into one lavish graphic novel.

At first I was sceptical as what was presented seemed to be a fairly predictable merging of the ‘Rocketeer’ and first Indiana Jones movie and I started asking myself the question, are we getting anything new here? Well I persevered and I am glad that I did.

‘Captain Gravity’ is a homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood and that era’s serial storytelling. So the narrative begins in tinsel town with a tale of a young Afro American boy striving [along with thousands of others’] to get a break in the movie world. But this is only the intro from here the story quickly broadens out in scope and complexity and over the next 180 odd pages we move from Hollywood in the 1930’s to war torn Europe, Africa and Atlantis [yep that’s right, Atlantis] as well as jumping from World War Two Europe to more contemporary events such as the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960’s.

It is true that some of these transitions are initially a little confusing but on the whole the movement in time and place is handled with considerable skill and control and as a reader we are hurtled along at a fairly rapid pace but we never get left behind.

The basic plot deals with Joshua Jones who has arrived in Hollywood as a refugee from the prejudice of the Southern States. He is granted power over gravity after an accidental encounter with Element 115. However he must cloak his power [due to his colour and the prevailing prejudice] behind the mask of a popular B- Grade movie character, Captain Gravity. The irony of having a character who is at the same time fictional and actual is one of the novels highpoints and it the astute handling of this dramatic irony that initially reveals to the reader just what an accomplished writer Dysart is.

In every way this is a huge read. We deal with actual historical events such as the growth of the Nazi Party and Hitler in Germany and the anti Semitism that was to develop into the holocaust through to the stuff of myth and legend, with Atlantis and underlying all of this are moral issues to do with racism, power, love and loyalty. Of course true to the Hollywood setting we also have a tale of heroism, romance and intrigue. Unifying all the levels is the symbol of the swastika. It is refreshing to see this mystical symbol treated with the respect it deserves whilst never downplaying the symbol for hate that it became.

This Graphic novel operates on numerous levels with it is the interconnection of these varied levels that ultimately makes it an engrossing and fresh read. It is a work that has been crafted with care and attention to detail. The muted colours used and the use of brown shades adds to the historical 1930’s setting and creates an almost sepia toned effect. This is a rollicking adventure, one with heart and a strong social conscience.

In a Word: Vrilliant.

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