Comicsphere: Cages by Xander Bennett & Melanie Cook

panel from comic

What if you’d spent your whole life in a cage, never glimpsing the world outside?

What if everything you knew was darkness, fear and cold, clinical steel?

What if one day, an angel came to you with a message of hope – a message that you were about to be set free?

This is the story of CAGES, a dark future tale of horror and redemption.

Cages grabs you from the front cover by Jonathan Hickman, and pulls you in — it is a beautifully designed and very modern looking piece of art that adorns the outside of this book. Once you get inside the first page of the story contains within those five panels all of the elements which you will feel resonating throughout the book. The work of Cook has a very human quality to it and that works well to heighten the sense of contrast between the main characters and the world which they inhabit — a cold world of science. But then nothing is ever that simple. As with all substantial works of fiction you should have to exercise your mind and you should have your other senses engaged — Cages more than delivers. The colourful art together with the sensitive depiction throughout, balanced with action and intrigue keeps you reading, the pace never flagging. In fact I found myself at the end of the book wishing that it were longer, which is truly a testament to how well it works. There is a constant reframing of the notion of what constitutes a cage and it is a blessing that the reveals never seem like cheap tricks or shock tactics — it grows very organically. I liked the fact that though this is set in the future that the strangeness of the setting and some of the figures therein seems almost of secondary concern to the main thrust of the narrative — namely, what it is to be human. You can see within the exploration of the world of Cages and at the conclusion of this tale that there is scope for revisiting this place, that there is more to see. If there is a sequel I will definitely be on board for it. This is the first work of Xander Bennett and Melanie Cook, two natives of Perth, Australia who currently live in Vancouver. It’s published by Insomnia Publications, a Scottish company. CAGES will be available to buy at Bristol International Comic Expo next month, and at San Diego Comic Con in July. It will also be available for purchase at Insomnia’s official site and Amazon.uk. xanderbennett.com cagescomic.com elephantwords.co.uk

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