In Review: Animosity #5

Tensions continue to run high from threats within and outside the group.

The covers: Four covers to track down for this fifth installment in this popular AfterShock series. The Regular cover is by Rafael de Latorre. This is a creepy cover simply because it features the skull of an animal. Given how animals have now taken over a large portion of the world this cover could signify that they are the bringers of death or that a character will die this issue. Either way, this is a disturbing image. The first variant is the Colour Hip Hopf Comics Variant by Mike Rooth. This features a close up of one of the dogs from the previous story line that wore a metallic set of mandibles that made it a more fearsome beast. The details in the dog are stunning, but Rooth has outdone himself by having Sandor reflected in the choppers. The heroic dog looks great and the colors sell the image: the orange eyes, the metal teeth, and the flecks of blood on the mandibles. This is terrific. This version is limited to 200 copies. There’s also a Black and White Hip Hopf Variant by Rooth that’s the same image but with only red on the black and white image. This comes off as even more disturbing because the crimson draws the reader’s eye. This variant is limited to 50 copies. The final variant is one to track down. It’s also by Rooth, but will difficult to find as it’s the Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive. A hawk is flying toward the reader, its wings spread wide. In its beak is the pin to the hand grenade the predator is releasing from its claws. The animal is beautiful, but when one notices what it’s doing, it becomes disturbing. This is a terrific cover. Overall grades: Regular A, Color Hip Hopf Variant A, Black and White Hip Hopf Variant A, and Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive A+

The story: Underwater, two shrimp have a conversation about how their lives have changed since The Awakening. Their conversation ends humorously and sadly as it transitions to Jesse atop the whale that was providing transportation for her, Sandor, and the survivors of last issue’s bloodbath. The whale tells her the story of a long lived bowhead whale and what she made of humanity’s rise. After the tale, Jesse and Sandor leave the whale, who cannot continue with them on their trek. Pallas, the cat, and Bethesda, the buffalo, have a very interesting discussion on the state of what animals want now that they’ve awakened, with arthropods being brought up. This is an intriguing possibility from writer Marguerite Bennett and I hope it gets fully addressed in an upcoming issue. Sandor gets quite a bit of development in this issue, as something happens to Jesse that has her leave him for a time. The canine is much angrier in this issue than ever before, though it seems to be directed at others because of a shortcoming he perceives within himself. Not helping Sandor’s mood is a character causing considerable verbal trouble. This character undergoes a major change by the story’s middle and shows that the loudest to complain are the first to ask for help. Page 17 is the most frightening moment of the issue. What occurs should be expected, given the new world order, but to have it happen is still terrifying. The group faces a new unknown threat, and the issue ends with a good cliffhanger about that group. This was a challenging read because Sandor revealed much about himself, spinning my assumptions of him into a new direction. I like that Bennett keeps the reader questioning how to feel about this protagonist and I’m hoping for a big payoff at some point about him. Bennett could drag this out for a long time and I’d be perfectly happy. “Here There Be Dragons” was an excellent read. Overall grade: A

The art: There’s a lot of movement in this book, with characters going to different locations, but there are also several panels where the characters receive close ups to show the reader the emotions they are feeling. Rafael de Latorre makes the visuals move the story along incredibly well. I never thought I could feel any type of emotion for a shrimp, let alone a pair of them, but the bug-eyed crustaceans come across very sympathetically because of the way de Latorre illustrates them. I felt terrible by the time I had gotten to the final panel of the first page. Jesse is a joy in the opening of the book as she rides the whale; what child wouldn’t feel ecstatic riding a whale? As the whale tells its story of the bowhead, de Latorre zooms in closer and closer to the creature, building tension and sympathy, finally ending on the animal’s eye, seemingly to tap into its soul. It’s a great moment. Pallas the cat looks constantly worried, as some felines do, but this shows her personality, as she seems to consider more than the others. Sandor is a visual revelation in this issue, going from friendly protector to threatening predator; his final panel on 7 had me questioning his nature. The animal that begins the issue as an antagonist is wonderfully illustrated; I felt that this individual had no redeeming qualities whatsoever until the turnabout on 14. It’s also interesting to see that this character is the only animal wearing clothes and has had its ears pierced decoratively. This could be a visual clue that the character is not to be trusted because it is the most human of the group. Another character who is visual pleasing is Bethesda. For such a gigantic creature, she matches her soothing dialogue perfectly. Everything about the visuals is excellent. Overall grade: A

The colors: This is the brightest issue of this series so far. It was uplifting to have every page, even those that contain trouble for the characters, feel as though they are bathed in light. The book begins this warmth with some beautiful blues for the shrimps’ scene. These creatures are also colored well, with their tan exoskeletons being lovely. When the whale and Jesse breach, the beach and the water are breathtaking. Their comrades on the beach look great because Rob Schwager gives them layered colors to make them authentic. The forest is another gorgeous environment because of the many shades of green it contains. The one interior setting that is visited by two characters has the colors dimmed, as if civilization sucks the colors out of the natural world. The final four pages are at night and Schwager uses some amazing violets and pinks to light the darkness. This is great work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Shrimp speak, dialogue, screams, scene settings, and a dreamy voice are brought to life by Marshall Dillon. I really like that the shrimp were given their own unique font when they spoke and I was hoping that the same would be true of other animals, but sadly only the shape of the animals’ dialogue balloons is changed for each species. It’s not Dillon’s call to make this change in fonts, but he’s a capable letterer and it would have been good to see him allowed to be unfettered to do so. The dialogue is crisp and clear, the screams and yells dramatic, and the scene settings stand out for the reader to see before looking at the visuals. The dreamy voice is delightfully wispy. Overall grade: B

The final line: An excellent entry point for new readers. Tensions continue to run high from threats within and outside the group. The visuals are wonderful throughout. This series is always a revelation in its characters and terrors. Overall grade: A-

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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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