Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Cleopatra in Space - GN Book One - Target Practice

I first met comic creator Mike Maihack some years ago at a comic convention because a friend of mine loved his strip, Cow & Buffalo, and wanted me to get his autograph for him.  I started chatting with Mike, and I picked up a preview of his upcoming creation, Cleopatra in Space.  The art was unique and definitely cartoonish in a lot of ways, but it was appealing to the eye, and the story was just plain fun.

Fast forward to 2017 at MegaCon in Orlando, where I caught up with Mike again (although I had seen him a number of time at various conventions over the years), and while I was having him do some art in one of my sketch books, I started flipping through not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR volumes of his Cleopatra in Space series, which is now being published through Scholastic.  Definitely impressed at how far this "indy" creator had come through hard work and dedication, I picked up the first four volumes for me, and also a set for my good friend, Kevin (the one who asked me to get Mike's autograph all those years ago...)

"Target Practice" is the first volume in the series and provides a quick origin story and starts young Cleopatra down the path to becoming the savior of the Nile Galaxy.  But as with any good story, the more things change, the more they stay the same. In the past, young Cleopatra had her lovable cat, Kosey; in the future, she finds her mentor-of-sorts to be none other than Kosey's descendant, Khensu. In the past, she had her friend Gozi to have fun and get into trouble with; while, in the future, she makes new friends with Akila and Brian.  In the past, Cleopatra longs for action, something to take her away from the hum-drum boring life of a destined-to-be ruler; in the future, Cleopatra finally gets to realize that action for which she has been longing!

Taking a historical figure and throwing them into the future is not necessarily a new concept - the "fish out of water" tale has been done so many times. But Maihack takes the idea and fills it with lots of comic super-battles, an undercurrent of subplots, and a whole heck of a lot of fun with a lovable character who the reader can easily tell is going to lead her poor mentor into a world (or, in the future universe, worlds) of trouble! Not everyone is human, not everyone can be trusted, and not everyone is looking out for Cleopatra's best interests - but every page is enjoyable, and if this first story is any indication, every book is going to fun to read!

While "Target Practice" is a self-contained story, it has plenty of lead-in for future tales. Why is the council determined to test Cleopatra so much? Who is this tyrannical Xaius Octavian who is fighting to take over the galaxy? Will Cleopatra fulfill her destiny as the savior of the Nile Galaxy? And probably most important - just who does Brian really like - Akila or Cleopatra? (Oh, and there is that lingering question of whether Cleopatra will stay in the future or return to her own time, but we'll save that for another time...)

Maihack has a hit on his hands with Cleopatra in Space, and I'm overjoyed that his work is being taken mainstream by Scholastic - it deserves to be noticed!

9 death trap field trips out of 10 for a brand new space adventure with a diverse cast of lovable characters!

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