In Review: Animosity: Evolution #4

What price is the progress of the new world? Powerful and entertaining reading.

The cover: Wintermute’s Raiders are charging across a plain and into the reader’s lap in this cover by Eric Gapstur and Rob Schwager. In the front is Gwendolyn Yi riding a horse. She’s flanked by two apes riding motorcycles, above them an eagle carrying a strap full of grenades, and in the back a throng of other animals and men. This is an exciting cover for the action it contains, but look closely at Yi’s face: she’s smiling. She finds joy in this moment. This makes her words on the second page come off even harsher. The colors on this also make it exciting, with the urgent oranges and yellows giving it an adrenaline boost. Overall grade: A

The story: Nirvana seems to be collapsing in this fourth installment by creator Marguerite Bennett. Wintermute’s Raiders ride to the Gannet gated community, golf course, and country club. At the clubhouse, the citizens of this community are confronted by the pack from the the city. Gwendolyn tells them, “We have more than ten billion creatures to protect, and we require arable land to farm and feed them.” This community is running out of food and has declined to join with those in the city. They will eventually be slaughtered by others or each other, so “today we are forcibly removing you for your own protection.” The raiders quickly begin to tear the structures down so that the land can be prepared for farming. Elephants appear over the hill pulling plows. This dramatic beginning leaves the reader wondering who the bad guys are, which is echoed by one animal. The story then moves to The Drake and Oyster in San Francisco where two characters are in a bad situation after the arrival of Mr. Kazi at the end of last issue. It’s here that Octavia and Penelope learn some harsh truths and witness something bloody. Kazi isn’t in much of this book, but he is certainly memorable. Wintermute and Adam have six pages to themselves and their relationship becomes a little more defined. The wolf is still a wild card and her relationship with the human seems precarious, though each makes a similar gesture to the other that is missed. As if seeing the raiders in action and the black market brought to life isn’t damning enough for this society, the final two pages show three characters, who were the sweetest characters in the world, looking to get violent payback on one who did them wrong. Wow. This issue will make a reader wonder how these hard decisions aren’t dissimilar from the rise of human society. Overall grade: A

The art: Eric Gapstur starts this issue with some strong images of the raiders making their way to the closed off community. The second panel captures a lot of action with the vehicles and the animals racing side by side. The addition of the truck in the final panel teases that big things lie in waiting. The next two panels on Page 2 have crowd scenes, first of the humans and then the raiders, and they’re very loosely drawn: shapes that imply characters, rather than fully rendered individuals. Better are the close-ups of characters, such as Gwendolyn as she speaks to the crowd and Leopold and Salix’s brief conversation. The full-paged splash effective communicates what’s going to happen next, but there’s a lot of dead space in the bottom left. Coloring would have helped this, for this is on a golf course. Much better are the scenes in The Drake and Oyster, where the close quarters make the situation very tense. Mr. Kazi is a fantastic character, true to his species, but the implants give him a dangerous quality. His actions on page 17 are shockers. Octavia’s emotions at this location are fantastic; her size does not shrink her convictions at this location. It’s only in the close-up that ends 7 where she looks to have realized she may be pushing too hard. Wintermute’s scenes with Adam are great, with hands being key on several pages: throwing papers or making gestures. The tension in the wolf is obvious from her introduction, but she obviously eases when Adam sits to speak with her. The focus on her cybernetic eye on 12 gives her a godly feel, as if she were Odin passing judgment. The final three panels on 14 wonderful return to 11, but with the same sad results. Both characters want a calming touch, but neither can do so in this new world. The final panel on the penultimate page mirrors the reader’s shock and the final page is a terrifying full-paged splash. What a visual to end on! Overall grade: A- 

The colors: The yellows and the tans of the opening page echo the colors of The Road Warrior franchise with the machines and characters racing through the desert. With the turn of a page Rob Schwager introduces cool greens for the golf course. I like that the dust the raiders have kicked up trail across this distant setting, foreshadowing that it will soon overtake it. Page 4 is too brown from what’s just been shown and I know of no golf course that has visible brown hills from the field of play. The bottom panel on 5 uses a striking yellow to highlight the dark greens on Kazi, plus a white background makes his eye an instant focus. I like how the bland colors of this setting are punctuated by teases of crimson in the background: a constant reminder of what occurs behind closed doors. Notice how silhouettes are given this shade on 7, increasing the threat of the antagonist’s speech. The final panel on the page is in harsh orange to increase the tension further. This contrasts with the whites, blues, and beiges of Wintermute and Adam’s scenes. The flashback that’s brought up is a dark tale and rightfully receives dark colors. Schwager is doing a great job. Overall grade: A- 

The letters: Marshall Dillon’s contributions include scene settings, yells, dialogue, Octavia’s tiny dialogue, whispered speech, and one horrible sound. By horrible I don’t mean Dillon did a bad job on it. He did the opposite in fact: it’s perfect and makes the action really horrible to look upon. I really like how Dillon differentiated between Octavia’s speech, which is very small, for the very small character, and the whispered dialogue. I appreciate that they’re differed enough to allow the reader to hear them in two different ways. It’s the little things (no pun intended) like this that shows that Dillon is the right letterer for this book. Overall grade: A

The final line: What price is the progress of the new world? It upends communities, creates black markets, and makes the innocent jaded. Bennett makes this an absolute page turner and the visuals make the creatures personified without diminishing their natural appearances. Animosity: Evolution is a powerful and entertaining read. 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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