In Review: The ZooHunters #1

This is a delightful discovery that puts wonder back into space. A must read.

The covers: Five different covers all by the book’s creator, Peter Steigerwald. The A and the B covers join to create one image. The A features lead characters Tyrellun and his father Abros. They’re sizing each other up against a view of the galaxy cut by vertical slats. Very nice cover. I thought I was looking at the artwork of Jim Starlin or Howard Chaykin when I first saw this. The B cover shows a male and a female who aren’t in this issue against the same background. Also very nice, but I couldn’t tell you who these people are. The Retailer Incentive edition shows the father and son team striking heroic poses with a gigantic alien creature behind them. Very nice. The Expanded Retailer Incentive edition shows the female character from the final three pages striking a seductive pose with her bird-pet-friend (?) wrapped around her like a boa. This image is available as a signed print from Aspen. The Comikaze Comic Expo Exclusive Limited Edition of 200 shows the same woman with a knife in her mouth, as a giant octopus coils some of its tentacles around her. This is also very nice and a slick way to incorporate the mascot of that convention into the image. Overall grades: A A-, B A-, RI A-, ERI A, and CCEELE A

The story: This is a building issue that sets up the characters and their universe. Writer Peter Steigerwald doesn’t reveal much directly, instead dropping tidbits of information. He does this extremely smoothly. Thirteen year old Tyrellun, Ty, is about to leave the hospital. He’s been writing a journal to his mother whom he can’t wait to see. As he writes his final hospital entry, dialogue is given from another room between Abros and the doctor. The father is upset that his son hasn’t been told that his mother has been dead for four months. Ty isn’t used to spending much time with his father because of his profession, and a nurse suggests that they talk about his dad’s work, since Ty likes animals. The reunion is tough. The loss of the mother effects the boy as one would expect. However, Steigerwald doesn’t stop there: there is a lot of subtlety in how Abros reacts. The dialogue between the two, since they are forced together, is awkward and painful. Most of all, it’s honest. I sweated every pause in dialogue and heard every word emphasized by italics. In addition to this pair, learning to reacquaint themselves with each other, are the alien worlds. It’s still not clear what ZooHunters do, though animals are involved. They obviously catch and deliver them, but how the purchasers use them is not stated. I don’t know if Abros even cares. The two make a delivery to an alien world and much is said of the state of Earth and how Ty can grow. The final three pages introduce an unnamed female character who makes a discovery. She was fun for her trio of pages and I’m eager to know what’s going on with her. This was a lot of fun. Overall grade: A

The art: Peter Steigerwald is also the artist and colorist of this book. The visuals are amazing. He is equally adept at creating familiar and alien environments. The book opens in the seemingly familiar environment of a hospital, with Ty in the obligatory pure white room. This is nicely contrasted with the dark wood of the waiting room where his father is. The first touch of alien-ness is the doctor, who looks almost simian. When Ty is given the news of his mother, Steigerwald uses five horizontal panels that are not xerox copies of each other, but have just enough movement to make this emotional moment touching beyond words. As drawn as I was to Ty, since he’s expected to have the biggest reactions, Abros’s slight movements were just as strong as the grieving son. Pages 11 and 12 are a similar fantastic way to show slight variations in the characters to tell the story. Again, I was drawn to Abros. The arrival on the alien world is amazing. I wanted something alien and Steigerwald gave it! The design of the inhabitants is great and the colors are beautiful. The final three pages with the female are equally good, and the alien that encounters her is stupendous. Every image in this book is wonderful. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The font used for Ty’s journal is credited to Josh Reed. It’s really nice. It’s not cursive, but a little fancier than print and completely appropriate for a boy Ty’s age. I’m going to assume that Steigerwald also did the lettering for the rest of the book, which included dialogue and scene setting. It, too, is well done. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is a delightful discovery that puts wonder back into space. A strong story of a father and son trying to build a lost bond against the backdrop of catching alien animals. A must read. Overall grade: A 

 

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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