The Chan­cel­lor and the Citadel

Maria Capelle Frantz, Iron Cir­cus Comics (DE­CEM­BER) Soft­cover $14.99 (120pp) 978-1-945820-26-7

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Graphic Novels -

In Maria Capelle Frantz’s af­fect­ing, al­le­gor­i­cal graphic novel The Chan­cel­lor and the Citadel, the Chan­cel­lor, a mys­te­ri­ous hooded fig­ure with seem­ingly mag­i­cal pow­ers, pro­tects a city’s cit­i­zens from their en­e­mies. In the process, she se­ri­ously in­jures a young boy.

Olive, the Chan­cel­lor’s clos­est friend, helps the boy (re­vealed with shock and fright to be “hu­man”) re­cover as the city is thrown into chaos and mis­trust of the Chan­cel­lor’s power spreads. The moral­ity of killing and the na­ture of courage are ex­plored. In one of the book’s most poignant scenes, the Chan­cel­lor seeks an­swers from an un­named higher power, which in­forms her that there are no “good” or “bad” guys, “but there are those who do bad things” out of fear and anger.

A po­tent but kid-friendly look at how peo­ple be­come di­vided, the book is pain­fully rel­e­vant in to­day’s po­lit­i­cal cli­mate. Frantz’s art is ex­pres­sive, but the story re­lies heav­ily on the reader to ig­nore or fill in the gaps. There’s no ex­pla­na­tion of how the Chan­cel­lor gained power or a po­si­tion as the town’s pro­tec­tor, or how long that’s been the case. In­side the citadel, the Chan­cel­lor says “I made this place,” but the hu­mans at the city gate speak of tak­ing their lands back. While the out­siders are called “hu­man,” it’s never clear ex­actly how the city res­i­dents are not.

Maybe that’s all part of Frantz’s mes­sage: that it doesn’t mat­ter what the char­ac­ters are, or how they ar­rived at this point, only what they do in the fu­ture. Though younger read­ers might be left won­der­ing about the un­knowns, The Chan­cel­lor and the Citadel de­liv­ers its con­flict-re­solv­ing moral elo­quently and mem­o­rably.

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