Comic Review: Polar Volume 0: The Black Kaiser HC (Dark Horse)

Polar, a title from Dark Horse, tells the story of a spy. Aging, one eye covered by a black patch, battered and experienced. Polar. And Volume Zero (“0”), The Black […]

Polar, a title from Dark Horse, tells the story of a spy. Aging, one eye covered by a black patch, battered and experienced. Polar. And Volume Zero (“0”), The Black Kaiser, is newly available.

As Polar’s writer and artist Victor Santos, says in the 2018 introduction to The Black Kaiser, he was inspired by writer Trevanian and artist Jim Steranko. I can vouch for the Steranko connection; the high contrast visuals ring with Steranko-like intensity. The panels glow in white, black and red. The white interrupts the black, overlaps the red. As we read, the red pokes through the shadows, the droplets of colour finding their voice and path. Figures in silhouette, falling, fighting, battling.

Santos’ voice is a visual one, but Polar also rings with dialogue. The drawings, remastered from their original printing 10 years ago, are clean and crisp. Or as clean and crisp as they can render a killing, a knife fight, a story of revenge and redemption. A spy, hunted by former friends and lovers, determined to be the last standing. The Black Kaiser’s dialogue has also been edited, as Santos tells us, to reduce the ‘blabbermouth’ effect. Less is more.

There’s something brave about a comic creator who has the guts to revisit his title after 10 years and do a gut job on it. Gutting: A home renovation, where you strip the structure to the bones and rebuild it. Just like Polar, going into his past, and trying to make sense of it all.

Polar, The Black Kaiser, one of five graphic volumes.

Dark Horse, Polar Volume 0: The Black Kaiser, $17.99 for 104 pages of content. Mature readers

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!