In Review: Animosity #1

The premise, the characters, and the action have me hooked.

The covers: Four to choose from for this opening issue of Animosity, with two being tricky to find. The Regular cover is by Rafael de Latorre with colors by Marcelo Maiolo. This shows the two protagonists of the series, Jesse and Sandor, turning to look behind them to see what evil is following them. However, before them are several animals, a bear, an ape, a wolf, a snake, a crocodile, and a tiger, ready to attack the pair. This illustration sums up the direction of this series excellently and the coloring, especially that of the antagonistic animals’ eyes, makes it creepy. The Variant cover is by Kelsey Shannon. This cover is composed of several different animals looking at the reader, some with sadness and some with anger. The fate of the reader hangs in their hands, feet, paws, and claws. This composition has the creatures looking with human-like emotion, which creates joy and fear. The colors are wonderfully bright, but belie the horrors that are within. Excellent cover! There are also two other variants, both from Blindbox Comics. The color cover, limited to 150 copies, has the girl and her dog standing on the bank of a river looking at a city that is covered in a haze of smoke, with a dark plume rising from its center. Both characters look solemn, she with a rifle strapped to her back and he leading the way. Great, moody piece. The Black and white cover, limited to 100 copies, is the same image as the previous cover, but without colors; I like this, but I prefer the colored version. Both covers are by Rafael de Latoree. There are also twenty of the black and white covers hand colored by artist and these are called Blindbox Embossed Artist Series. They are also signed, numbered, and embossed. Wow! Talk about an ultra-collectible! Overall grades: Regular A+, Variant A-, Blindbox color A+, Blindbox B&W A

The story: San Francisco, today. A veterinary clinic has called a exterminator to get a client’s mouse out of a wall. The man makes commentary about how he kills the animals that the vet saves and the doctor responds, but stops when something startling happens: several rats have come out of the wall and attack the man while yelling, “Die, you bastard!”, “Rat bastard!”, and “Die! Die! Die!” Writer Marguerite Bennett then takes a page to quote Genesis 1:29 – 31, which details the Biblical food chain. This is followed by a series of panels that detail the quantity and variety of animals on Earth, including humans. It ends with, “Mostly, what we know is this: one day, for no goddamn reason, the Animals woke up. They started thinking. They started talking. They started taking revenge. We call it the Wake.” Six pages follow, showing twelve different animals and their reactions to humans or others like themselves once the Wake has begun. The tale then moves to little Jesse and her family. Jesse tries to tell her mother that her dog Sandor spoke, but her father rushes into their apartment with news of the uprising that’s occurring on the streets. An action sequence happens, with the girl and dog becoming separated from the adults, and they, too, face a frightening creature. It’s impossible not keep flipping the pages, given the dire situation for humanity. Jesse and Sandor are an instantly likable pair, with her youth and his protective nature binding them to each other and to the reader. This book isn’t just thrills, though there are many, there are also several laughs on the six pages with Bennett showing specific animals’ reactions to the Wake. I appreciated the funny with the serious, as the book could be overly tense and the humorous moments were welcome. And I also have to give Bennett major kudos for finding the most wonderful title for this series, as animosity means “a feeling of strong dislike, ill will, or enmity that tends to display itself in action” and it contains the root word animal. What incredibly clever and deviant word usage that I find exceptional. This set up is great, now I want to see what Bennett has planned next. Overall grade: A+

The art: The visuals on this book are as strong as the story. Rafael de Latorre has a very fine line to walk in this tale: he has to draw animals realistically, yet he has to have them doing things that they’re not known for. Case in point, Pages 4 – 9 follow twelve different animals reacting to the Wake. Without spoiling any animal’s tale, the animals in the third and sixth panels on 4 and those in the fourth and fifth on 5 look realistic, but have facial reactions that any human could relate to. With text added to the visuals, those panels will melt the hearts of readers or startle them. The full page splash on 10 is an incredibly warm illustration, which is in complete contrast to the splash on 2, which is terror brought to life. The bottom of 11 is a shocking moment that will have fans of Hitchcock smiling in deviant glee. The second panel on 12 is outstanding, showing the reader that the character in the foreground is no pushover. The three panels that comprise the second row of panels that spread across 12 and 13 are neat illustrations that show the Wake is continuing to have an impact on every animal. To truly show the chaos that’s spreading, 14 has a splash of the city to show how disastrous things have become. The animosity of the animals is undeniable. This page has four small panels inserted that show specific events in the city and they show that not every animal wishes to harm humans. I gasped at the fifth panel on 15, because that’s not what’s supposed to happen to a child in a story, even if it’s a thriller. Latorre ramps up the tension to an unbelievable level at the start of 16: it’s incredibly cinematic and terrifying. The individual that appears on 17 made me pause in my reading, because, again, this is not what’s supposed to happen to a child in a story. The final page of the book is another splash, and I encourage the reader to go back to 10 and take note of how the characters are essentially in the same pose, but look at the different emotion that’s pouring out of both. This is a smart and phenomenal way to end the issue. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Rob Schwager uses his talents to move the reader, both strongly and subtlety. The book opens with calm browns and greens inside a veterinary clinic. Notice how the final panel has the background go to a hot yellow when the doctor expresses concern about Joe the exterminator. A turn of the page has the backgrounds go darker, to show that the tone of the scene has gone darker, and it most definitely has gone dark with the rats’ maws crimson with gore which matches the chest of the unfortunate pest control worker. Colors expertly separate the twelve animal stories shown on the next six pages, with the water being beautiful in blue and the grassy fields tremendous in soothing greens. The entrance of the individuals on 11 has Schwager use yellows and oranges to make the moment intense. The graphic action in the second panel on 12 has a stark red background to intensify the gore. Attention must be drawn to 10 and the final page: the colors have gone from cool to harsh, showing the change in the world. A superb use of colors to show the new world order. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, five distinct fonts for specific animal’s speech, Biblical text, narration on the Wake, yells, screams, sounds, and the tease for next issue are crafted by Marshall Dillon. I was impressed by several animals getting unique fonts, as this further distanced them from humans. The two different fonts on Page 3 show the contrast between classical thought and the reality of the situation. The repetitious venom spouted by the flying creatures looks as chilling as it sounds. Dillon was definitely the right letterer for this book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The premise, the characters, and the action have me hooked. As you read this book you’ll be thankful the Wake hasn’t happened…yet. My local comic book store sold out of Animosity #1 the day it was released. Diamond sold out the same day. Seriously, you need to find this book; it’s that good. Highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

To purchase a digital copy of this book, go to https://www.comixology.com/Animosity-1/digital-comic/381862

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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