Along with the concept of book/album combo projects come the fond memories of Jeff Wayne’s ambitious War of the Worlds, or even those great Book and Record Sets from the 70s with their excellent short stories, accompanied by soundtracks and effects that bathed you in sonic atmosphere. Such were my hopes for Captain Rugged, the new graphic novel by Native Maqari with music by Keziah Jones, that starts the story of a modern-day super hero set against the urban sprawl of an abandoned African city.
Released amongst Marvel’s current tirade of adolescent, quasi-mythical nonsense Captain Rugged is a welcome departure from the norm, but still suffers from the over familiar tropes of typical super hero origin stories. I enjoyed Maqari’s illustrative style of loose, nightmarish and inky blacks, that brilliantly set an unsettling tone and present a shanty town of Lagos that’s buzzing with activity, corruption and political unrest. It’s certainly a dark and desperate tale, but satisfies only as a prologue for now, setting the scene for hopefully more to come.
The music provided by Keziah Jones on the other hand feels much more upbeat with it’s combination of jazz funk and African rhythms mixed with a touch of Motown, that makes for a lively, accessible and highly accomplished set of tracks. Whilst the book and album can claim their own success they do feel disconnected. And where the storytelling might leave you a little cold, the music delivers on its own terms and is deserving of repeated listens. An interesting if not completely satisfying start to the story with the music stealing the show.