The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 6 (June 2015)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #6

I’m not sure why Busiek feels the need for Dusty; he’s the puppy guy who’s sort of the protagonist of the comic. He only ever uses him to deceive the reader. In this issue, the human is doing something he doesn’t tell Dusty about so there’s that surprise for reader and character, but then Busiek’s got Dusty doing something the reader doesn’t know about. So he’s not reliable and not because he’s shifty, but because Busiek’s just using him as a vantage point.

It’s an okay issue of Autumnlands. Dewey does rather well with the disaster and action sequences (the human still doesn’t look good); his art makes the comic. Without it, Busiek would just be spinning his wheels.

There’s more political intrigue this issue. There’s more coincidences leading to big changes in the political spectrum. There’s more implied characterization than actual. It’s slight. It’s gorgeous looking, but Autumnlands’s shallow.

CREDITS

Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterers, John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt; publisher, Image Comics.

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The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 5 (March 2015)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #5

Busiek’s kind of showing his hand with Autumnlands this issue. Not the plot as, though some of it, but more just how the comic’s going to be, how it’s going to read. It’s magic talk around a bunch of anthropomorphic steampunks. Maybe I’m just sick of Busiek not knowing what to do with the narrator. When he just narrates, it’s really annoying.

The issue’s story is a lot of political maneuvering and double-crossing and so on. It’s competently done, but never interesting or original. There’s a lot with the champion, usually through the narrator’s eyes, with these little asides letting the knowing reader in. If you don’t want a narrator, don’t use one. Don’t undermine him, not unless you want the reader not to like him, which is a perfectly reasonable (if unlikely) possibility.

Dewey’s art seems a little hurried and he’s still no better at drawing the human.

CREDITS

Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterers, John Roshell and Albert Deschesne; publisher, Image Comics.

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 4 (February 2015)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #4

Yeah, Dewey really can’t draw people. He’ll do this beautiful anthropomorphic giraffe and then the lame human character. Of course, the human character is only lame in how Dewey draws him; Busiek writes the character rather well.

Busiek brings Dusty–who the first entire issued followed–into the present narrative as the human’s sidekick. They go out and explore the world and discover things aren’t like Dusty, on the sky-ship, has been told. And all the art is beautiful. Except the human.

I can’t remember how to spell the human’s name, which is why I’m just calling him the human. Busiek goes for something close to Leonard, but there’s a Y in there somewhere.

There’s the behind the scenes corrupt and the evil, if dumb, owl. I was hoping Busiek would tone down the political intrigue a bit, but the issue works out well even with it hanging around.

CREDITS

Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterers, John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt; publisher, Image Comics.

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 3 (January 2015)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #3

Busiek finally seems to be going somewhere with The Autumnlands. It’s unfortunate he needed a human to get the story moving, but Busiek turns what appears to be a contrived new character into just the thing the series needs.

The human savior from the past is a soldier with cybernetic implants or something. I’m sure Busiek will get around to explaining; he hints at a lot of stuff here, including have the guy use slang. And speak the language of the beast. It gives the reader better access to the world of the characters.

Speaking of characters, there’s a lot of good character development this issue. Busiek concentrates, he doesn’t look around too much, he doesn’t try focusing on anyone too much. Not even the teenage dog kid who was apparently once protagonist but not anymore.

Dewey’s art is still gorgeous, with one exception. He doesn’t draw humans particularly well.

CREDITS

Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterers, John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt; publisher, Image Comics.

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw 2 (December 2014)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #2

It turns out the savior of the animal Earth of Tooth & Claw is–shock of all shocks–a human. A savage, but honorable warrior, which makes sense because something about the way Busiek writes the exposition about the savior (before his species was revealed) reminds of Conan.

Oh, and it’s The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw now. I thought it was just a style thing (since the people all crashed down to the ground from the floating cities), but apparently it’s a trademark thing.

The result is the story having, so far, nothing to do with autumn. Actually, the issue takes place in one night with a herd of boar attacking–they’re happy the city-dwellers have been brought low–and the savior hatching. There’s arguing and some character stuff from the previous issue’s protagonist, but Busiek’s going for action and lots of events.

It’s fine, but Dewey’s art makes it worthwhile.

CREDITS

Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterers, John Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt; publisher, Image Comics.

Tooth & Claw 1 (November 2014)

Tooth & Claw #1

Writer Kurt Busiek takes a traditional–though not for comics–approach to this first issue of Tooth & Claw. He treats it as a “pilot movie” for the series, introducing a bunch of characters who aren’t going to be important later but are important to this issue’s story. It’ll be interesting to see if he keeps up the structure for the series going forward, will every issue have an actual complete three act structure.

It’s a fantasy world where animals walk on two feet and talk and cast spells. The whole society is based on magic and trade. There are big hints of humanity being part of the story, but Busiek doesn’t go into it this issue. He should, given the time spent hinting, but he concentrates on his cast and how they handle a catastrophe.

It works out because Benjamin Dewey’s art, gorgeous throughout, is even better on the finale.

CREDITS

Writer, Kurt Busiek; artist, Benjamin Dewey; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Jimmy Betancourt; publisher, Image Comics.

The Legend of Wonder Woman 4 (August 1986)

The Legend of Wonder Woman #4

And here Busiek and Robbins run into a big problem. They’re doing a last pre-Crisis story and so there needs to be some transition. Well, needs is a strong word. They put in some transition, which the bookend system they’re using requires. And it’s a nice enough transition, it’s just not the right one for this series.

The resolution to the main story is phenomenal. There’s fighting, there’s personal growth, there’s romance. There are kangaroos used in battle. Busiek and Robbins balance the crazy story elements with the human conflict. And they do allow some relaxation for their cast….

Before they cut forward to the modern day and deal with the Crisis stuff. The series, while excellent, is a perfect example of why a superhero comic’s worst enemy can often be itself. Even though it’s sublime, the issue’s politics stop it from being as rewarding as it should be.

B+ 

CREDITS

Splitting the Atom; writers, Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek; artist, Robbins; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

The Legend of Wonder Woman 3 (July 1986)

The Legend of Wonder Woman #3

Someone–Busiek or Robbins or both of them–came up with the structure of this series and all of a sudden it becomes clear this issue and it’s fantastic.

Legend goes from being a nice homage series to something wholly original. Unless the old Wonder Woman comics are as well-plotted, in which case they don’t get enough credit.

Busiek works up the revolt angle, with Wonder Woman starting imprisoned then getting free and fighting alongside Steve Trevor. There’s some wacky fake, but very amusing, atomic science in here too, but then comes the big moment. Busiek and Robbins work towards what should be a rewarding, if all action finish and then go past it.

But if they’re padding for a fourth issue, it never feels like it. The characters, their decisions, all make sense. Busiek does a great job with Steve Trevor too.

Awesome work with the brat too.

A- 

CREDITS

Inside the Atom Galaxy; writers, Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek; artist, Robbins; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

The Legend of Wonder Woman 2 (June 1986)

The Legend of Wonder Woman #2

Right after I say Robbins doesn’t spend a lot of time on backgrounds… she spends a lot of time on backgrounds this issue. The difference is the setting. It’s a fantastical hidden city, not Washington D.C.–and, during the action sequence, the backgrounds do still fade away. So my observation seems about half right.

There are lots of developments this issue. The little brat sidekick becomes a good character–or a better one and not just comic relief–and Steve Trevor stages a revolt in the atomic world. Busiek does a great job applying real emotion to the outlandish situations, not just with Trevor but with how the hidden city invasion plays out.

The way Busiek and Robbins introduce the hidden city is cool too. They split Wonder Woman and the sidekick to cover more ground, but both threads inform the other.

The adventure seems slight, but the creators’ imaginativeness keep things going.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Land of Mirrors; writers, Trina Robbins and Kurt Busiek; artist, Robbins; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, L. Lois Buhalis; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

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