Temperance is a great graphic novel by Cathy Malkasian that can be many things to many people, in the manner of all good works of art. We have a paranoid premise, where the father convinces his children that killing others is okay, if it’s done for the cause. But what is the cause exactly? And who is the shadowy enemy? We are never told, but the nebulous nemesis is more unsettling than any concrete manifestation of enmity. Blessedbowl, the ship built to preserve these pathetic humans in their isolation is captained by the patriarch’s daughter, Minerva, who continues the crusade against the amorphous foe. She has to lie to her husband, but all these lies are ameliorated by Temperance, a branch of wood that survives from the time before Blessedbowl.
If the above made little sense to you, fear not. This novel is unputdownable. From flights of fancy to delusions that never end, the book rattles on like a locomotive itching to make a deadline beyond the plains. The artwork is stellar as well, with monochromatic elegant etchings taking the place of the usual riot of colours that proliferates graphic novels. The brutality is all the coarser for the starkness of the pencilling, a fact you will both appreciate and be disgusted by. Is this entire book a parody of religion, a stirring indictment of totalitarianism, a mad flight of fancy into the eidolons of dementia, or all of the above?
An excellent work, if marred slightly by the two typos that recur throughout the book. It’s “fiery”, not “firey”, and “privilege”, not “priviledge”, which looks like a toilet on a windowsill.