Monday, July 4, 2016

5 X 5 Waiting for the Trade: The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw

1. So, I came about reading this trade paperback collection of Image comics in a different way: I didn't wait for it, I was introduced to it by a text from my pal John that went Reading Autumnlands: tooth and claw. 7 dollar collection on Amazon. Thought you'd like it. Maybe a lot. A few clicks on the computer later and it was on its way, even before I had finished my texting with John - hey, his recommendation is worth risking $7.42 (free shipping with Prime) - and I deliberately didn't research it any further or try to figure out ewhat it was about - totally sight unseen.
2. John thought I'd like it, and I did, but maybe not not as much as he had, or he thought I would, but enough to out this one in the win column. It has beautiful art by Benjamin Dewey - including what John had referred to as very well rendered dirigibles - and Kurt Busiek certainly knows how to build a plot and tell a story. In this case, the story is about a future-world, post-apocalyptic society of humanoid bipedal animals (of a wide variety of species) who use magic to hold their civilization together, and the conflicts that ensue after wizards reach back into time for a legendary Champion to help stave off the end of that magic and things (of course) go badly.

3. Overall, the conceit and the story both hold up quite well. My fantasy OCD quivered a bit at some of the choice made for for the different characters and extras - like having owls and dogs the same size, and the birds having arms and hands. Most often things seemed pretty random, which could be a deliberate effect,  but then we get a fox as the wily schemer, and it seems both obvious and out of place. The Champion himself seemed a little too competent, but I guess that's why he was The Champion. These sort of small quibbles aside, the story kept me turning pages until the end - of the trade, but obviously not the tale. I'll read the next installment, for sure.

One additional treat: each chapter begins with an "excerpt" from a pulp novel telling the story from a different perspective, with period art to match. Pretty cool.

4. John also mentioned that he thought the setting would make for a great RPG campaign, and I have to agree with him there: there's some excellent world-building going on, and the technology (flying cities as well as airships) and magic seem consistent and workable. The difference between the character species are enough to allow for customization of abilities - a dog-person announces that since he's a terrier, he can run all day - but overall the power levels seemed pretty compatible.

5. One last note: I can't review this without saying that if you squint, it seems like nothing more than a grim 'n' gritty Kamandi pastiche. I don't know if Busiek had that in mind,m but even if he did, it;s worth the read.

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