Meet Asterios Polyp: middle-aged, architect and teacher, aesthete and womanizer, whose life is upended when his New York City apartment goes up in flames. He leaves the city and relocates to a small town in the American heartland. But what is this ''escape'' really about? As the story shifts from present to past, the pieces of Polyp''s life come together and we meet Hana: a sweet, smart, first-generation Japanese American artist with whom he had made a blissful life. But now she''s gone; what has happened to her? Mazzucchelli''s extraordinarily imagined world of brilliantly conceived eccentrics, sharply observed social mores, and deftly depicted asides on everything from design theory to the nature of human perception becomes a masterpiece: a great American graphic novel.