CANTO Vol. 1 (2020) review

Canto Vol. 1 (IDW Publishing)

Canto Vol. 1: If I Only Had A Heart is available now in print and digital where all good comics are sold.


Enslaved for generations, Canto’s people once had hearts. Now they have clocks. They are forbidden to love, yet Canto loves a little tin girl. When slavers damage her clock beyond repair, Canto embarks on an incredible journey through his strange and fantastic world to bring back her heart. Hailed as a “truly entertaining and striking modern fairy tale” (Newsarama) and a “beautiful and heartfelt story about love and heroism” (The Brazen Bull), Canto is an all-ages adventure for past and present generations alike. Inspired by The Wizard of Oz and Dante’s Inferno. Part fantasy. Part adventure. All heart.


I love to be surprised by a comic book. Going out of my superhero comfort zone to read something is new is always challenging but can reap some huge rewards. Canto Vol. 1 is one of those rewards.

I was sent this book by IDW ahead of its release and found that I couldn’t put it down once I had started. It’s the perfect read for a DnD player whose looking for a similar type of escapism from their comics.

As the synopsis says, Canto’s people have been enslaved for generations. They once had hearts. But now they have clocks and are forbidden to love. But Canto isn’t like the rest of his people. He falls in love with small tin girl and sets out on a mission to find her heart in order to save her life.

What follows is an epic tale of love lost and found, wrapped up in an incredibly well realised fantasy realm. But it’s not as straightforward as it might seem as Canto Vol. 1 takes some really interesting twists and turns on its journey.

Writer David Booher really has crafted an incredible world for the character of Canto to inhabit. There are multiple different races, different towns and lands within the realm and the backstory to all of the various players feels incredibly well realised from the outset.

There are definite cues from the world of Dungeons and Dragons, the story will familiar to players of the game as it takes a similar approach to storytelling. There’s travelling to undertake, monsters to defeat and an ultimate goal to the quest.

From the outset there are high emotional stakes for Canto. It breaks all the laws of the land that he falls in love and doing so almost costs the object of his affection her life. Through this we get to learn, in very quick time, the history of Canto’s people and how they came to be the way that they are.

The pacing is so expertly laid out that we set out on our quest very early on. Clocking in at 164 pages for the digital edition, there isn’t a lot of room to breathe in Canto’s first volume, until the story needs you to that is.

As the adventure pushes forwards and the action escalates, it feels like little Canto is going to achieve his goal of restoring his lovers heart. But alas, Booher has other ideas in mind and as Vol. 1 draws to a close I found myself feeling distraught at the final twist in the tale.

Canto Vol. 1 features illustration from Drew Zucker. Zucker brilliantly brings the world of Booher’s story to life with a colour palette as dark and twisty as the story itself.

Creatures are brilliantly rendered and his character design work injects life into the various lands of Canto. Art and story work perfectly in sync to create a level of escapism which the book deserves.


Canto Vol. 1 is as touching as it is adventurous. It feels like a classic science fiction adventure story fitting of a big screen film like Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal. Trust us when we say it will leave you wanting more!


Canto Vol. 1 is written by David Booher with illustration by Drew Zucker. The book is published by IDW and is available now.

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By Neil Vagg

Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & TV and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG