As with all reviews on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete overview of the book; rather, it is to examine how the book relates to the meaning of life.
The graphic novel is about an escape artist who completes increasingly sophisticated and daring acts in a circus. As the stunts increase in complexity, the great Escapo comes closer and closer to death, until one day, he must bargain with death itself—to break free, in order to live, in order to buy more time to complete the things he didn't have time to complete before. But the book isn't just about one's coming to terms with one's inevitable return to nothingness, it is about everything in between. Or, as Paul Pope would say in an interview, It’s a meditation of a 26 year-old on life and death and love and all those things. Paul Pope, of course, being the 26-year-old referenced here. Pope also talks about how he wanted to get more out of life, to live more fully. A theme we also see in his work 100%. Heartbreak is another theme that is shared between 100% and Escapo.
As Escapo is being introduced before his first dance with death, the announcer states: ...Greatness! ... Some seek it through the eye of a needle, others through the point of a pen! Some on shoes, some in dreams... ... and some through action! Escapo survives that tango and learns to live another day, but can no longer perform as he now has awakened to the realization that death sits on his back, waiting to steal his last breath. Eventually, after being threatened to be kicked out of the circus, he pulls up the nerve for another escape. Nothing complex, something he has done hundreds of times, but also an act in which he will question his every move as death eagerly awaits for Escapo to make one minor slip, one minor mistake; and this time the announcer has a new message for the audience, A man's life will not come again, once it has slipped through his teeth. And no power on earth can bring it back. This is the mortal law...
Sometimes the answers to life is life itself. Live it to its fullest while it lasts, because that's all we get. Overall, a 5 out of 5 star read. There is a certain brilliance and depth to Paul Pope's darkness in Escapo that is perhaps overlooked by a lot of other reviewers.
PS: I love how in all of Paul Pope's work I've read so far, the night sky, stars are shown. Nothing like a bit of perspective to bring life back to balance.