Published on June 3rd, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
The Autumnlands #6 Review
Tooth and Claw Act 1 Conclusion
The two tribes of Kurt Busiek’s Autumnlands prepare for parley but there is treachery on both sides and the climax of act 1 is heaped in action and tragedy.
The story has been leading to this point from day one; not the confrontation between the Bison and the Upper City survivors (although that part as well) but Dusty’s first foray into heroism. He sits back while the Great Champion arranges everything for the parley and even becomes instrumental to part of the plan. But when push comes to shove and the violence of the day becomes apparent to all, Dusty begins to question what they are doing.
The main crux of this issue is the confrontation between the Bison and the survivors but this is just a front for the character assessments that Busiek is displaying for the reader. Several of the main characters are highlighted and their actions in this issue define what and who they have become over the first arc. Some are simple like the head of the council and his self-serving disregard for others but others are more complex. The Great Champion, Learoyd, appears on the surface to be a barbarian but his well thought out plan and orchestrated sacrifice show greater depths to the human killing machine. And Dusty has a lot to think about as his pacifist nature is stretched to its limits, torn between his admirations for Learoyd and the devastation wrought in the name of their survival.
This issue is a wonderfully enjoyable character piece set in the midst of an epic battle just like some of the best moments from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The violence and tragedy is given a personal feel as the majority of it is seen through the eyes of a single character; and it is Dusty’s emotional responses to the action that manoeuvres the reader through the story giving it a rather disconcerted tone. Although the survivors are victorious against the Bison hoard and a rescue from above is imminent there is still a bleakness to the ending because of what Dusty has witnessed; the sacrifices that were made and the loss of live is too much for the young pup.
Where you would maybe expect this issue to end on a high note, for the some of the characters at least, it does in fact end on an opposite note, kind of like an Empire Strikes Back ending. This is a brave move by Busiek but a good one. It leaves so many narrative threads unsatisfactorily hanging that the reader must come back for the second act but at the same time finishes off the first arc with a sense of closure.
The artwork this month is especially affective with the epic scale of the combat giving way to the character profiles which express the emotional context of the story. The downbeat tone of the narrative is reflected in the earthy colours and when the rain starts everything turns a bit messy, in a good way.
Not all of this first arc has been riveting and there has been more than a fair share of fantasy clichés but this final issue is well crafted and enjoyable. The engaging characters are the shining light in the rain drenched combat and there is more than enough to keep you interested in the story as it draws to a close.
Title: The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kurk Busiek
Artist: Benjamin Dewey
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire