Review: Hunters – The Shadowlands #1 (of 5)

I’m really on the fence about this issue. I’m struggling to decide if I like it or if it was just meh. It’s definitely an okay issue as it does a lot of interesting things, but then it also has this weird mixture of experimentation with the storytelling that doesn’t pan out. The other strange thing is that it felt like a long issue when in fact it was only twenty-two pages. I’m not sure what that’s a testament to, but it’s something. There’s a recap in the beginning in case you’re not following the Unleashed series and have missed out on the prior events, aside from a few vague mentions you don’t really need the main series to understand this one. It begins with Roman Asher a werewolf hunter, landing in the Shadowlands after the events in Unleashed. The thing is… he landed alone. There were four other Hunters with him, but now he finds himself stranded, solo and S.O.L. He begins surviving because it’s the only thing he can do. Time passes randomly in the Shadowlands so he has no idea exactly how many days it’s been, but he keeps track regardlessly. He finds a house with a dead werewolf inside and takes residency. After 5,475 days… the other Hunters arrive.

The story flips over and introduces Sela Mathers, Liesel Van Helsing, Masumi Yamamoto and Elijah Jones. They’re instantly attacked by a sand Kracken and their journey only gets worse from there. We follow them as they carry on fighting werewolves, then vampires and finally take their first loss as Masumi falls to a school of mermaids. After that Elijah disappears during a rain storm leaving Sela and Liesel to fend for themselves… for a few pages at least.

GFTHunters_1_cover DigitalThe problem with the story is that the narration isn’t evenly distributed. Roman has the bulk of the narration and then it switches to Sela when she’s on the page, but then switches again to Elijah when it follows him briefly. Typically when there’s a narration it’s one character or one omniscient voice; granted it can be shared between characters, but the key word is shared. The narration isn’t shared it’s just convenient and doesn’t pan out.

There were also huge issues with the pacing. We spend a lot of time with Roman, so much so that when the other Hunters show up I had to wonder why. Literally the issue could have ended there, but it switches over and instead of the slow going pace in the beginning it’s sped up. With Roman we were seeing how much time had passed in order to likely show his mind going, but with the others it was rapid fire. This happened, then this, then this and then finally this. When the characters began to reunite and explain where they were, I kind of didn’t care. For me they were only gone a page or two so it was like shut up and join the group already.

The art was actually very strong and not the normal looking style that you see in a Zenescope title. Everything was very light and the line work was soft and rounded. I didn’t even recognize Sela at first, but that was mostly due to the costume being drawn different. I liked her look because it was far more realistic and didn’t make her look like a sexy librarian, but more like a damsel that said, “Fuck it, let’s get this adventure going!” The art really saves the story and it’s by far some of my favorite interior work that the company has produced.

If you can’t tell, I still have mixed feelings about this book. I really wanted to follow Roman in his I Am Legend isolation for the entire issue as it was the best part. Everything afterwards came across as a strange experiment in storytelling that didn’t blend with the opening. The art on the other hand-held my attention and made me crave more. I’ll definitely keep an eye on this series, but it’s not as strong as it could have been which is starting to become a trend with the tie-in series.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Raven Gregory Artists: Tazio Bettin, David Cutlre, Renato Mapa Jr. and Oscar Celestini Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/22/13