There are many ways to make it obvious to the reader that the world in which the characters exist is not our own, even in stories that are based (to an extent) in history. Four Eyes: Forged in Flames is a graphic novel set in New York during the Great Depression. Except that there is one major difference. Dragons are very, very real.
It follows the story of a young boy called Enrico. Despite no one having any money or work, Enrico’s father is somehow able to put food on the table and look after his wife and boy. Unfortunately, that’s because the man is going into dragon lairs to abduct infant dragons. Predictably, Enrico finds himself the only man in the household. He’s a tough lad and will do anything to make ends meet. Even following in his father’s footsteps.
Fire-breathing, treasure-hungry monsters make for such a perfect metaphor for the Depression it seems obvious when you see it. Joe Kelly’s pacing and dialogue is spot on all the way along. Kelly is better known for the staggeringly good I KILL GIANTS, and his talent shines through with this book. It is gripping and clever, and despite Enrico not being the most likeable of heroes, you can almost feel the child’s desperation. Max Fiumara’s art is appropriately dark and moody, capturing both the despair of the period and the terror of the dragons.
The original Four Eyes comic books came out in 2008, with all editions long out of print. Image have breathed new life into the project with this new trade paperback, and the ongoing series will be relaunched later this year. Given the long wait we’ve had so far, let’s hope that volume two is worth the wait. It has a lot to live up to, as volume one is very good indeed.
FOUR EYES VOLUME 1: FORGED IN FLAMES (REMASTERED) / WRITER: JOE KELLY / ARTIST: MAX FIUMARA / PUBLISHER: IMAGE COMICS / RELEASE DATE: JULY 23RD