In Review: Animosity: Evolution #9

Every element of this book makes it an emotional powerhouse.

The cover: The bloody hand of Wintermute dominates this cover by Eric Gapstur with Guy Major providing colors. Her metallic limb is caked in blood, which leaves sickly crimson trails on the stone. This may seem like a simple cover, but it is an absolutely fitting image of what occurs within this issue. Overall grade: A

The story: Last issue the massive Ur-King, a huge octopus, arrived to speak with Wintermute to discuss the conflicts that their sides have been having. Things don’t start well with a dolphin addressing Wintermute with the basest names. This is followed by the dolphin throwing a human skull at the metallic enhanced wolf. It is the skull of the pilot that crashed into the bay. The Ur-King says, “So many crash into the sea. From their broken weapons…” The behemoth rises from the water to reveal it’s augmented as Wintermute’s Le Animata. “…We have made something rich and strange.” Marguerite Bennett has Wintermute tell the creature that they should work together to ensure that humans do not rise up and take over the world again, but the Ur-King proclaims, “It is not the humans you have cause to worry, you mutant, you mutt.” It’s a trap and Leopold, using his metal hinged mouth, bites Wintermute, wounding her. Leopold is the Leopard, the traitor in Wintermute’s midst. The Ur-King them uses one of its spiky limbs to further wound the wolf leader, making her incapable of walking. Leopold tells the onlookers what Wintermute was planning to do, but it’s Alan, urged on by Wintermute, that tells them what her other plan are. This shocks the assembled and guarantees the fate of one major character. The conversation that occurs on 10 – 15 is wonderful. Two characters try to reconcile their fates and that of the world in only a few minutes and there isn’t enough time. There’s never enough time. It’s beautiful and absolutely heartbreaking. I found myself questioning a character’s choices, and by the end of the book I still don’t know if this character ever made the right decision. On 16 things go as one would expect, except there is a horrible surprise on 17. Bennett is a master of this: just when one thinks things can’t go worse for a character, they do so in staggering fashion. The final page contains no dialogue, but the emotion that comes across is easily felt. Things keep getting worse for the characters as the story only keeps getting better for the reader. Overall grade: A+

The art: The point of view of the first panel, illustrated by Eric Gapstur, tells the reader everything they need to know about the previous issue as Wintermute is diminutive compared to the Ur-King. The look that the wolf gives the dolphin as the skull plops next to her is icy. I love the slight shift in her gaze to show the reader she has a sniper ready to fire on the gargantuan. Though it’s slight, note how the final panel on the page has the octopus with angry eyes; foreshadowing if ever there was. The full-paged splash of Page 2 has the Ur-King reveal he’s augmented and it’s a shocker. The action in the third panel on 4 made me gasp, while the image that ends the page made me pull away from the book, because such an act is unthinkable and to see it is startling. Notice how Leopold is shown in the second panel on 5 — the reader is looking up at him, like a god, like a leader. Time to reread Animal Farm, everyone. The large panel on 6 is a great introduction to three smaller panels that have a character making an important decision. The full-paged splash on 8 is a visual death sentence if ever there was one. The trail is ghastly, but appropriate, given what this character has done. However, look at the trees, another character can be seen exiting, though in silhouette resembling something from a Lovecraft nightmare. The conversation on 10 – 15 is excellent. The bars and chains are shown often to remind the reader of the setting and what the dawn will bring. I love the panel that crossed between 12 and 13: it’s Biblical and summarizes how each feels. I never thought the insects shown on 14 and 15 could be beautiful as they fly about, but Gapstur does it and they’re key to this scene between the characters and the book’s conclusion. The final two panels on 15 are wonderfully horrible. The panel that’s a partial double-paged splash on 18 and 19 is horrific. It has to be. I didn’t want to see it, but it had to be shown. There’s no coming back. The final panel on 19 made the action even more terrible. The final page is brilliant. This individual would want to be alone. What happens to this character is poetic, sad, beautiful, and needed. Gapstur nailed the emotions perfectly in this issue. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Rob Schwager’s contributions to this issue are also sensational. I love the skin work for the Ur-King. I also like that after the skull is tossed at Wintermute, notice how the background turns blue — the color of the Ur-King’s domain. The blues used for the massive character’s speech solidifies its rule over its domain. Harsh yellows appear when Wintermute realizes she’s in a trap and they intensify the moment considerably. Reds are teased for a violent action by surrounding a character’s speech on Page 4, but they dominate the third panel when the wolf is bitten. Yellows are explosive for the final image on this page. From this point on, red is an eye catcher for the blood streaming out of a character’s body and another’s mouth. I like that the final panel on 7 is in a sickly green to mirror the horrible realization made. A reader cannot help but follow the trail of red on 8. The coloring on the panel that is on 12 and 13 is exceptional. It’s the only bright moment during this conversation and it make their dialogue holy. The blues that cover 14 and 15 are ethereal and otherworldly, which is perfect for the moment. The red that surrounds the sound on 18 and 19 is as jarring as the action shown. I like how Schwager highlights the character in lighter colors in the final panel, while those around the individual are in hostile oranges and reds. I really like the colors of the last page, with the penultimate panel being in very dark blues to increase the emotion. Brilliant. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The text of this issue includes scene settings, water creatures’ speech, dialogue, yells, whispers, and sounds, all created by Marshall Dillon. I like how there’s a slight difference between those on land and those from the sea. This shows that those from under the water sound just a bit different from those animals on land. I like it. It gives them a visual accent. The yells are in a bold, often italicized, font to emphasize the volume with which they are spoken. I love the whispered speech, to emphasize the size of one speaker and the emotion another feels. The sound on 18 and 19 will be impossible to get out of my head. It’s a perfect match for the action and it’s a nightmare come true. Overall grade; A+ 

The final line: This is a character’s final issue and it’s stunning. I never thought the book was headed in this direction, I never thought I would ever see this happen, and I never thought it would move me so much. It’s brilliant. Every element of this book makes it an emotional powerhouse. What an incredible culmination of only eleven issues. But the survivors have to go on, but to what? I’m terrified to read the next issue, but I can’t look away. Highest possible recommendation. 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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