Tooth and Claw #1 is the start to something magnificent.
We’re thrust into a world split by clear social hierarchy, religious undertones and societal strife. The world of the Seventeen Cities has a history – its own story – some explicitly told, like the one of the Great Champion, but also clues of stories we don’t know yet, like the trading market and the religious systems in place, but it gives us a feel for this world and gives us something solid and tangible to grasp onto.
The world is inhabited by animals that Kurt Busiek portrays in a human fashion, where they walk on hind legs, have breasts, and wear clothes, but still contains qualities unique to their given species like tusks, feathers. Some even attach to old adages like owls being wise and a bit pretentious. He does a great job creating a dichotomy with their animalistic nature by humanizing them by bringing out the best and worst qualities of humans. Benjamin Dewey’s use of careful line work with gestures highlight qualities of empathy and love, desire to help others, but also illustrating righteous anger, hatred, judgment and blame.
These are brought to life by Jordie Bellaire. Her coloring is fantastic as usual. She puts life into these characters, adding subtle depth and detail like the texture of fur, feathers, skin, and metal trees. The colors breathe existence into the Seventeen Cities with a vibrancy that accentuates the magic in the air, however fading. There’s a particular scene where her coloring effectively switches the mood on the turn of a dime, turning a hopeful, history making ceremony-of-sorts turn into tragedy.
This issue, like the Seventeen Cities and its inhabitants, is unique and full of potential. It’s a book that, although gives plenty of hooks to keep readers engaged, will require patience and a level of commitment. The pacing reminds me of a novel. There are so many characters introduced that we don’t get too much information about any particular person just yet and we’ve only seen a couple of the cities. There’s a whole subclass of characters, mostly working class that speak in simple sentences, which need to be explored. This shouldn’t be a problem, because it’s clear that this team has an epic story to tell. I mean epic. It’s big. There’s fantasy, magic, a huge world to explore. If you’re willing to take it slow and commit to the long haul, this book won’t disappoint.
After a quiet past few years comics legend Kurt Busiek explodes back into the comicsphere with a enthralling, fascinating escape into a high-concept fantasy world.
Tooth and Claw #1 has the benefit of nearly 50 pages (at $2.99!) and it uses every single one to present a huge setting populated by races and tribes with deep groves and interesting back story. A society comprised of various “breeds” of animals have created a sprawling magic-using society that dares to be explored. This first issue is positively slam packed with personality and it will be a treat to see how it unfolds.
Even with the all the exposition and locale changes Benjamin Dewey makes the comic flow ahead steadily. His depiction of the humanoid creatures have a great blend of practical anatomy and creative liberty and the vast cityscapes never get old. Dewey’s style invokes the cover of a pulp fantasy novel and the world already feels idiosyncratic while still tapping into familiar aspects of the genre. Colorist Jordie Bellaire continues to prove her status as a top five in the profession with another great effort. The soft, worn tones really work to sell the atmosphere and the spell-casting scene in the second half deserves specific praise.
Busiek’s choice of viewpoint for the story, a young aristocratic pup named Dunstan, smartly succeeds, and the primary character, Gharta, a fem-boar wizard , holds some potential. By the end of this comic you have just about everything you need for a good run, and that includes a central mystery that requires little set-up and portends vital repercussions.