Guest blogger Ken Lee makes this week’s selection for us, and it is actually a book that was released last week. We have decided that to ignore it would be criminal and thus……
Great Stories selects……
Tooth & Claw #2 (Image)
Tooth & Claw is back this month with a new-ish name but more of the same high-quality, high-fantasy action that we were treated to in issue 1.
For those of you who missed last month’s spectacular 44-page debut, the recently re-named Autumnlands Tooth & Claw tells the story of a society of anthropomorphic animals set in a magical world. Magic’s power is fading from that world and it is having devastating effects upon their way of life. While leaders and wizards from across the land gather to discuss how to address the increasingly dire situation, a group of rogue mages devise a plot to restore magic back to the world by summoning the legendary warrior, the Great Champion.
Writer Kurt Busiek had a lot of pages to work with in issue 1 and many of those pages were used to build out a detailed fantasy world with rich, varied cultures and complex social problems. The second issue of the series returns to a standard twenty two page format and the action is tighter as a result. It spends little time before throwing the reader headlong into their first bloody conflict.
Magic and steel collide with flesh and hide in issue 2 and the results are predictably violent. One of the things I really like about this title is the animalistic dichotomy. Beneath its occasionally cute and cuddly exterior, Autumnland Tooth and Claw is dark and unapologetically brutal in nature. Illustrator Benjamin Dewey’s use of heavy lines and kinetic style captures the action with dramatic results. His battle sequences are well-paced and *ahem* graphic. And then there’s lots of gore too.
And though none of the environments in issue 2 are nearly as breathtaking as the views from the floating city of Keneil,
Dewey’s artwork continues to amaze and delight. I love the painted splash pages that nod to the illustrated fairy tale books and I love the way animal faces are rendered naturally yet are still capable of conveying subtle reactions and emotions.
There are spiritual undertones in the Autumnlands, ones that speak of death and change and fear. It’s refreshing to see a comic book dealing with these issues upfront although they sometimes feel a bit clumsy. The revelation of the Great Champion’s true lineage probably caused a bit of controversy but maybe not necessarily for the right reasons. The reinforcement of religious themes is heavy-handed at times and often made at the expense of character and plot these events development. After two issues we still know very little about our young protagonist or where the events are leading him.
We have more mysteries than answers at the moment (what is up with those ravens on the inside of the front cover?) but I am thoroughly enjoying this series and excited to see what happens next to my hairy, furry and feathery friends.
Issue 2 of Autumnlands Tooth and Claw came out on December 3 and could still be found on the shelves at your LCS. Issue #1 is sold out at the distributer level and will go to reprint. The second print drops January 7, 2015 alongside the release of issue #3 which introduces a new character.
Kaark, Truth finder! Kraak!