Important Note Dept: As you can probably guess, I’ve been a bit busy with Real Life(TM) this summer, and while I’ve been productive at many things, I sure as hell have not been productive at blogging—I’ve been reading at a glacial pace, which caused my writing to lag as well since I need to, y’know, read things before I can review them. Rather than disappoint everyone with silence, instead I’ll just post reviews of things most of you don’t care about: graphic novel reviews and art posts! I have a bunch of short graphic novel reviews stockpiled on Goodreads and elsewhere, and some half-completed art posts I can finish up. What a time to be alive!
For the wizards of the Autumnlands, it is a time of quiet desperation. Their magic has begun to wither and fade over the years, carefully hoarded but dying nonetheless. Most animal folk live in luxury thanks to the power of their magics, inhabiting great floating cities miles above the downtrodden ground-dwellers who toil away to supply the magicians with raw materials. In their hour of need, the wizards summon forth the “Champion” of ages past, whom prophecy has foretold will restore—or destroy—their way of life. What they end up with is Master Sargent Steven T. Learoyd, a hairless, fangless human plucked out of an interstellar war. In a shattered city whose masters are now besieged by their own rebellious serfs, Learoyd is their only hope for survival.
Between the Tarzan-esque fonts (which Comicraft does a killer job at by the way), and leading each issue off with a pulp-style splash screen and several paragraphs of text, there’s a clear homage to classic pulp adventure here. It doesn’t hurt that Learoyd is pretty much John Carter of Mars, sucked out of his own time and deposited in a detailed fantasy world. There’s plenty of action and adventure here, along with some good world-building; Busiek has the start of something really, really good here, and as anyone who read his work on Astro City or Conan can tell you, he’s a damn fine writer. Ben Dewey seemingly came out of nowhere; his art is fantastic, and he has an uncanny ability to depict characterization, filling every beak and snout with recognizable emotion and humanity.
It’s an odd mix of bold, unique fantasy and pulp adventure, but The Autumnlands is pretty good. It’s not a really cerebral read and doesn’t offer much for character depth or development, but it does a fantastic job with its art, story, and world-building. I can see it becoming deeper and richer as it continues past its first six-issue run. It’s much better than some similar comics I’ve read of late, particularly Hinterkind, which has the same kind of far-future anthropomorphized fantasy feel to it but can’t hold a candle to The Autumnlands in terms of art or world-building. I’m looking forward to volume two when it’s available, especially as volume 1 ends on a cliffhanger… (Spoiler: I read, and loved, volume two, which built on and improved most things I liked in the first volume.)
Do I recommend this/will I continue reading it?: Yes, I’ve already bought/read volume two and will continue to buy future volumes as they’re released.
Recommended for fans of: Saga, Rat Queens, Barsoom, sword and sorcery, gorgeous fantasy settings, anthropomorphized characters… anyone who wanted to see Redwall or Mouse Guard by way of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Not recommended for readers who: are allergic to fantasy, want sympathetic characters who grow/develop instead of action/world-building, would be upset by a somewhat derivative plot and characters.
Title: The Autumnlands, Vol. 1: Tooth and Claw
Author: Kurt Busiek
Illustrator: Ben Dewey
First Published: 2015
What I Read: Image Comics, 2015
Price I Paid: $3.99 (Kindle/Comixology pricing)
MSRP: $9.99 tpb / $7.99 ebook
ISBN/ASIN: 1632152770 / B015XE1ECK