Published on November 7th, 2014 | by JCDoyle0
Tooth & Claw #1 – Review
In a land where magic is dying, a young pup witnesses an attempt to save the world but it comes at a great cost.
Kurt Busiek introduces the reader to his new sprawling fantasy comic through the eyes of a young protagonist by the name of Dunstan. Dunstan is from a rich, merchant Dog Clan and his father is trying to train him in the family business. He has already been charged with the family duty of The Thirty-Two-and-One daily Obeisances which is a great honour. But on a buying trip from the floating city to the ground below, he learns a little about the harsh world which he has been sheltered from.
All of this is overshadowed by The Grand Colloquy, a meeting of Wizards that is hijacked by a warthog called Gharta of Daiir. Gharta has a potential solution to the slow death of magic but it’s a radical and untested theory. She suggests reaching back through the mists of time to a moment before magic entered the world and bring forth The Great Champion, a legendary hero. She is cast out by the council but behind the scenes she finds the support she requires and the scene is set for World Saving Enchantments and Earth Shattering Disaster.
Tooth & Claw is an introduction to an epic fantast story. Although the first issue centralises the narrative on Dunstan, and rightly so, it introduces a wealth of ideas and characters all of which can be explored at depth in future issues. There are a range of clans, each with their own idiosyncrasies, and leading characters from each clan have been introduced in one form or another. The ‘day in the life’ trope adopted for the opening of this story has allowed Busiek to spread his wings wide and cover a lot of the world he has meticulously created. He has introduced religion, trade, cities, conflicts, some rules of magic, relationships between clans and individuals and on and on. There is a lot going on in this first issue and yet at no point does it feel crammed or over done.
Part of the ease at which the story unfolds is definitely down to the wonderful artwork and colouring. Each character design is distinctive, even in crowds of animal faces; the central characters can be picked out and followed. And the emotion that Benjamin Dewey is able to get out of a dog or owl face is extraordinary. And I can’t mention the art without referring to the wonderful colours by Jordie Bellaire. She never ceased to amaze me with her work and in Tooth & Claw she has splashed the world with an array of magical and naturalistic shades and tones.
Everything about this comic works in conjunction with the elements around it to create something quite spectacular and entertaining. There are going to be comparisons drawn between this and other popular fantasy stories such as Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones and based on this first issue those comparisons are fair. Tooth & Claw deserves to sit on the top shelf with the other greats of the genre and the possibilities for it are currently endless. Sometimes it’s cool to be late to a party, in this instance it isn’t. Get to this party early because, judging from what’s on offer so far, it’s going to be epic.
Title: Tooth & Claw
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kurk Busiek
Artist: Benjamin Dewey
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire