Book Review 9: Corto Maltese: Under the Sign of Capricorn by Hugo Pratt

Corto Maltese
 Corto Maltese: Under the Sign of Capricorn
Author: Hugo Pratt
Release Date: January 6, 2015

This book, the first of twelve volumes, launches the definitive English-language edition of Hugo Pratt’s masterpiece, presented in the original oversized B&W format and with new translations made from Pratt’s original Italian scripts.

Frank Miller calls Pratt “one of the true masters of comic art.” Long before the term “graphic novel” entered the popular lexicon — ten years before Will Eisner’s A Contract with God — Hugo Pratt pioneered the long-form “drawn literature” story.

Corto Maltese set the standard for all adult adventure comics in Europe. By the mid-1970s, Corto was the continent’s most popular series and Hugo Pratt the world’s leading graphic novelist. Hugo Pratt’s peripatetic sailor was featured in a series of twenty-nine stories.

The adventures of this modern Ulysses are set during the first thirty years of the 20th Century in such exotic locales as Pratt’s native Venice, the steppes of Manchuria, the Caribbean islands, the Danakil deserts, the Amazon forests, and the waves of the Pacific.

EuroComics is working closely with Patrizia Zanotti, Pratt’s long-time collaborator, to present the complete Corto Maltese in a series of twelve quality trade paperbacks in Pratt’s original oversized B&W format.

Corto Maltese: Under the Sign of Capricorn collects the first six inter-connected short stories Pratt created in France in the early 1970s: “The Secret of Tristan Bantam,” “Rendez-vous in Bahia,” “Sureshot Samba,” “The Brazilian Eagle,” “So Much for Gentlemen of Fortune,” and “The Seagull’s Fault.”

Rating: 5/5
Review: After having read the series in French, I was excited to learn that the Corto Maltese series was going to be published in English by IDW Publishing. This means being able to share the series with friends and avid graphic novel readers who are into adventure and the high seas.

The Corto Maltese series is about Corto Maltese, a sailor and adventurer, who travels around the world and helps the disadvantaged while he’s at it. In Under the Sign of the Capricorn, Corto meets and helps the boy heir Tristan Bantam. Along the way, they encounter men trying to kill them, but Corto gets them out of trouble with his wit and fighting skills. In this book, Rasputin (other than physical similarities, no connection to the real person) makes an appearance and offers some comic relief. Antagonistic and crazy at times, Rasputin is Corto’s sidekick at times. Corto also meets different recognizable personalities in each adventure so discovering each one is a treat.

The Corto Maltese series is a refreshing read for those who are looking for old fashioned adventure and those who want to take a break from superheroes and spies.

Disclaimer: I received an eGalley of this book from the author/publisher for an honest review.

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