In Review: Animosity: Evolution #8

Big changes in this issue and a big introduction. 

The cover: This is a wonderfully disturbing image of an animal being shown next to its cybernetic implants. The left side of the image shows a black widow in its web, but several of its limbs have been altered by metallic extensions and implants. The left side shows the same arachnid before receiving its metal bits, which are off to the sides of its broken limbs. Neat cover that shows the after and before images of one of the Animata, those that have been altered by Wintermute’s scientists. Very cool. Eric Gapstur, responsible for the interior art of this issue, and Guy Major created this striking cover. Overall grade: A

The story: A spider dangles down before Dr. Adam North as he wakes in his hospital bed. He’s told to be calm because he’s been unconscious for several days, recovering from the wounds suffered in the previous issue. He asks where everyone else is and is told the Ur-King is coming to the city. He jumps up with a start, saying he needs to speak with Wintermute to tell her who killed the Animata, the cybernetically enhanced animals. The spider says that everyone knows it was Penelope the cow. This causes him to ask where Leila Pham is. Marguerite Bennett moves her story to the floating casino of the animal gangsters where Pham and the cow, and her calf, now are. She sees dolphins armed with weapons swim by. She tells Penelope that she’s the one that created the Animata. Pham mutters to herself, “I knew them. Saved them. Helped them, at Wintermute’s command. The work was like…being alive again.” She tells the cow she doesn’t blame her for flipping the switch that killed the Animata, she blames her ex-husband Viktor. Penelope tells Pham of what it was like to awaken aware and the fear she, and others, had about receiving cognizance. Within the Lewis Buidling, Wintermute works with her staff preparing events to keep people happy. The events are to keep the population busy while she works out a truce with the Ur-King. North bursts in and says he wants to talk with the leader of the city in private. This conversation reveals much of the pair’s relationship and how it’s evolving into something else. There’s a solid reveal on Pages 8 and 9 that changes much of what’s gone before, but it’s really on 10 that things take a dramatic turn. More action occurs on the streets, with some familiar characters returning to reveal some important information to Adam. The final five pages are set at the Palace of the Sea and a character arrives that takes the characters’ and the reader’s breath away. If things haven’t been serious before, they’re definitely going to be next issue. Overall grade: A+

The art: There are some strong pages and some not so much in this issue. The opening page by Eric Gapstur has a fantastic first panel with the spider dangling above North, which is not something that most people would find comfortable to witness. Pham’s scene with the trio of animals on the floating casino has her looking fantastic. She comes across as visually frail and lost, which amplifies her dialogue. The trio on the deck with the doctor are very far from the reader so they are rendered very simply. The brief view of the dolphins in the water is a fright. It’s not exactly clear what’s on their backs, but it does look like cannons. The first two pages within the Lewis Building are, again, too simplistic. Every character needs more detail put into them. Look at all the characters on Page 5 — they suggest the characters rather than defining them. There’s a lot of empty space in the first panel on 6. Obviously this is a text heavy issue with so much being explained to the reader, but this panel comes off as primarily full of unused space. Pages 8 and 9 demand detail to create the horror of the story and they simply do not deliver. The tables are just too far away from the reader and those that can be seen are, again, too simple. 13 is in a new location, but that first panel doesn’t help with the enjoyment of the visuals. At the Palace of the Sea the simplistic visuals continue, except for the double-paged splash on 18 and 19 with an individual looking spectacular. The last page has the two animal characters at the top of the page again looking simplistic. However, the last panel has one creature looking fantastic. The visuals are able to tell the story, but not enough to make it spectacular. Overall grade: C- 

The colors: Rob Schwager does an okay job with the book’s colors, but he’s not given much to work with. The first speaker on the opening page is given a harsh bright red to surround its dialogue balloon to give it an ominous tone. The muted colors on the deck of the floating casino are perfect. The interiors of the Lewis Building begin as very blasé in their colors, which is what one would expect of the business building, but as the story moves into different rooms the colors darken along with the tone of the story; very smooth work by Schwager. Wintermute’s red eye constantly draws attention, much like Big Brother’s constant visage in Orwell’s novel. The scenes at the rally and the Palace of the Sea are just dreary to look at. Nothing takes any focus, save the newcomer. Overall grade: B-

The letters: Small animal speech, dialogue, scene settings, and the speech of the newcomer are Marshall Dillon’s contributions to this issue. I like the smaller font used for the small creatures, adding to their realism. The scene settings for this book have a puffy look to them that’s almost comical, but the seriousness of the story deflates any joy that they seem to create. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Big changes in this issue and a big introduction. The story continues to sizzle in this series, but the art becomes too simplistic to have this book equal its predecessors. I’m still a fan, but I’ve got to have better art in this book to continue purchasing it. Overall grade: B

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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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