In Review: The ZooHunters #3

This is must reading and gets my highest possible recommendation.

The covers: A trio to track down and pen in your collection. Series creator Peter Steigerwald is responsible for the A cover which features Abros Kel’s massive head looking down upon the men who have decided to make his life complicated. Judging from his eyes, he’s going to do all that he can for revenge. Front and center is Quarec who’s holding something in a canister that’s wrapped with yellow tape: that can’t be good. He’s surrounded by four henchmen, one of whom has a knife to Kel’s son Ty. Intense imagery that shows readers what they can expect in this issue. Excellent use of red makes this image dynamic. The B cover is by Chris Sanders and Steigerwald. This features an ultra cute version of Minalara. She’s surrounded by several creatures of various shapes, sizes, and colors. If the aliens look familiar that might be due to a movie that came out in 2002 that Sanders co-wrote, co-directed, and provided the voice of one of the title characters: Lilo & Stitch. This is the first comic book cover by Sanders and should be something to sought out; not just because he drew it, but because it’s fantastic! This series is called ZooHunters because of the species that are searched for, and Sanders has created a fantastic menagerie of creatures. The colors are also wonderfully bright which creates a sense of play and fun. This is the image I chose to accompany this review. Simply outstanding. The final cover, the C, is again by Steigerwalk, this time focusing on Minalara facing the reader, with a close up of her profile on the right side of the book. The illustration looks as though this is the cover of a fashion magazine, rather than a comic book. The coloring is fantastic, with white being used superbly to make her blue skin stand out. Overall grades: A A, B A+, and C A  

The story: Picking up from last issue, Kel and Ty are confronted by a gun toting Minalara. She shows she’s not going to use her weapon, she just wanted to be sure that they weren’t going after her. She’s been looking for Kel because a former contact of theirs, Quarec, wants to see him. He tells her that she’s wasting her time; he doesn’t want to see Quarec. She replies, “Oh…It’s way more complicated than that now. Berm’s with me.” This changes everthing, as Berm is a close friend of his father whom he’s known all his life, who’s supposed to be tracking down an animal for him. “Not anymore,” Minalara says, “Quarec got that. Come with me to my house. The doctor should be done with him now.” Hearing that his brother is under a doctor’s care spurs Kel to go with her; in tow is Ty who’s taken a liking to her nameless alien dog. “Trouble Clef” written by Peter Steigerwald gives a lot of information to readers while keeping the tone very tense. The conversation between the family members reveals what got Berm into his present state and why Quarec wants to meet with Kel. The characters and the readers know that when the leads meet up with Quarec things won’t go well, but I doubt anyone could have predicted how low the villains would go. Yes, the threat is suggested on the A cover, but the knife is just a prick of evil that these men do. I am really impressed with how strong Steigerwald coninutes to make the relationship between father and son; it’s only been two issues with this pair and the understanding and warmth between them is fantastic. The addition of Minalara adds an extra dimension to this relationship, as she has knowledge of the father’s past that Ty is not aware of. I also enjoyed the addition of the dog. Who wouldn’t want a dog that looked or acted as this one does? Rightfully, Steigerwald puts this animal in jeopardy when the villains arrive. It’s the oldest trick in the book to get reader sympathy, but it’s pulled off well and has me despising these loathsome men. This was highly enjoyable to read. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: When a writer of a book is also the artist (and colorist!), the visuals always look better. Peter Steigerwald is making this an absolutely lush book to look at just when characters are standing and having a conversation. The first four pages have Kel and Ty meeting with Minalara and it’s gorgeous — there’s no other way to put it. The first page is the inside cover and the first “page” of the book (but I’m counting that inside cover as Page 1) and they have a fantastic snowfall effect. Rather than simply illustrate blobs of white falling from the sky, Steigerwald has manipulated the art to allow the snow to have depth: one can see how close and distant each flake is. This is how a computer should be used for illustration. On the father and son on Page 2 there’s an amount of snow on their clothes that increases the realism of the environment. The introduction of Min and her dog to the setting doubles the change in colors and composition. I love the coloring on the dog: it makes him/her/it look amazing (Hint to Aspen: Three words — stuffed-animal-sales). With her white jacket and face, highlighted by incredible hot pinks, Minalara steals focus each time she appears. There’s one panel on Page 9 that has Steigerwald slightly changing his precise, fine style for a little rougher edge; even without the colors, readers would realize that what’s being shown is a flashback. The art and coloring is also fantastic for the confrontation that occurs at the end. The setting is the exterior of a jungle world at night. The colors are dark enough to suggest the time, but still contain enough brights so that readers can see what’s going on. This is a skill not mastered as well by others. I could look at artwork like this all day. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, and dog sounds are also by Peter Steigerwald. The futuristic font for the scene settings instantly place readers in the future and the dog sounds from the canine elicited coos from my youngest daughter. There’s also the font used by Ty as he’s writing down what’s in his journal. This is created by Josh Reed and it, too, is great. Page 16 created a thrill when Ty crosses out some of his text. Overall grade: A+

The final line: This is a gripping story of a reluctant father and son chasing down exotic animals and encountering nefarious individuals. The artwork is of the caliber that every artist hopes to achieve. One of the finest comics I’ve read created by an individual. This is must reading and gets my highest possible recommendation. Overall grade: A+

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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