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Friday, November 28, 2008

“Caliber: First Canon of Justice” Collection by Sam Sarkar & Garrie Gastonny (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

Read A Preview HERE

ABOUT CALIBER: The Arthurian legend of Excalibur is reborn in the Old Pacific Northwest. A land in which shamans replace wizards, gunfighters walk where knights once stood, and a mystical gun will change the world in place of the sword of legend.

It is here that the Indian shaman Whitefeather, discovers Caliber, a tattooed six gun imbued with supernatural power that can only be fired by one man. When aimed it brings down the heavens, firing lightning itself from its barrel. Driven by visions of the apocalypse and the one who can prevent it, the mystic searches for the lawgiver, Arthur Pendergon. For in a land where lawlessness runs rampant, it will be Arthur’s destiny to set balance to the scales of justice…

CLASSIFICATION:Caliber’s” retelling of the famous Arthurian legend may be more of a western than it is fantasy, but the graphic novel possesses enough elements from both worlds to satisfy fans of either genre…

FORMAT/INFO: The “Caliber: First Canon of Justice” Hardcover, written by Sam Sarkar and illustrated by Garrie Gastonny, is 144 pages long and contains the entire 5-issue miniseries. The graphic novel also includes character renderings and covers provided by
Luis Royo, Greg Ruth, Tomm Coker, Dave Wilkins, Stanley 'Artgerm' Lau, and more. The “Caliber: First Canon of Justice” Hardcover will be released to comic book stores on November 26, 2008 and made available on on December 3, 2008. “Caliber” is published by Radical Comics and is being produced and directed for film adaptation by John Woo (Mission Impossible 2, Face/Off, Broken Arrow).

Marvel and DC may be the kings of comic book publishers, but I always get more excited about new companies like Image Comics in the 1990s, CrossGen in the early 2000s, and Virgin Comics (Now known as Liquid Comics) which was founded in 2006. So it’s no surprise that I was immediately drawn to Radical, a brand new comic book company that debuted this past May with the launch of “Caliber: First Canon of Justice” and “Hercules: The Thracian Wars”. Between these two, I was attracted more to “Caliber” because of the concept and the artwork…

From the previews I had seen online, I was blown away by “Caliber’s” stunning artwork, which is even more gorgeous in hand. Fully painted throughout, the stylish illustrations by Garrie Gastonny and Imaginary Friends Studios are at once rich and dramatic, immediately bringing a refined elegance to “Caliber” that you just don’t find very often in comic books today. Of particular note is the dazzling level of detail—especially the faces—the dynamic storytelling, and just breathtaking splash pages. That all said, I thought the coloring could have used a little more vibrancy and I was amused by how much Lance Lake looked like actor Colin Farrell ;)

As far as the concept, Arthurian retellings are hardly new, but the western setting does offer a few unique twists like Merlin being portrayed as a Native American shaman and Excalibur being a gun. For the most part however, “Caliber” is pretty straightforward and will be recognizable to anyone who is familiar with westerns or Arthurian tales…

Of the writing, “Caliber” is the first comic book that Sam Sarkar has written and it shows with uneven pacing, conventional plotting, almost zero character development, and an over-reliance on the artwork to do the storytelling all plaguing the book. Worst of all, the narrative is terribly confusing, especially whenever switching viewpoints, although the book does makes a lot more sense on the second read through.

CONCLUSION: As a comic book, spectacular artwork plus an intriguing story concept plus mediocre writing equals a disappointingly uneven reading experience. As a property however, “Caliber” is full of untapped potential and with the right handling, could be made into an entertaining film…


Sam Sarkar is a 23-year veteran of the entertainment industry. He began his career as an actor and was one of the leads on the long-running, syndicated television series “Neon Rider”. Following the series, Sam decided to pursue writing and worked for the hit television series “Beverly Hills 90210”. Stemming from his work on the show, he also co-wrote a television pilot for Spelling Entertainment under the direct guidance of TV legend Aaron Spelling. Deciding then to embark on feature films, Sam took some chances, following a varied path of writing screenplays and working as a sound technician. In 2004, after working on several films with actor Johnny Depp, Sam was asked to help run Depp's production company, Infinitum Nihil, headed by Christi Dembrowski. As such, he continues to serve the varied needs of Hollywood as an executive, producer and writer. “Caliber” is his first graphic novel.

Animator and comics artist
Garrie Gastonny is part of Imaginary Friends Studios whose clients include Electronic Arts, DC Comics, MTV and diverse properties like Warhammer, Street Fighter, F.E.A.R., Superman, Spiderman and many others.


Mihai A. said...

Indeed the artwork looks good :)

Anonymous said...

Stunning as they are I must admit they are still not up for pre-order on I wonder if the publisher is serious about putting them up for sale there on Dec. 3?

Anonymous said...

Nevermind, I have found them both on amazon. Too cool.

Robert said...

I'm not sure how their international shipping works, but another place you might want to check out for graphic novels is Things From Another World. I sometimes get stuff from their...


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