This is the first issue of the Open Tree series called Freedom Run. There will be more tales to follow under the Open Tree title that are all based around stories of love in a one-shot for of delivery. Texas, 1872, a man by the name of Jessie attends to his farm left to him by his parents. Surveying the property on horseback he comes to the conclusion that he’s going to need more money to keep it up and running. Soon he stumbles across a horse that is caught up in some barbwire and looks to be dead. Jessie dismounts and tends to the creature. After that he leads his new-found friend to his barn to rest.
The next day he checks on the animal. To Jessie’s surprise there now a beautiful woman where the horse was laying. Jessie had heard tales of some of the natives that hold the power to let them change into animals. As time passes, Jessie and Kasa form a bond anchored by love.
As their relationship begins to grow, Jessie is visited by a man named Luke McKinney who is looking for a horse that ran off from him in this area. Jessie plays dumb and Luke buys it for now. Soon after Luke’s visit Kasa tells Jessie that she was his horse and was witness to all of the terrible things that Luke and his bandit posse had done. In fear of her life she ran off one night with a good chunk of Luke’s money and hid it. She informs Jessie where the money is and explains that it could help him keep the farm. Jessie agrees and makes plans to go and dig it up; but before he can Luke and his boys show up on Jessie’s front door.
This is a very solid story to kick off the Open Trees series. Freedom Run took the Native America lore of shape changing and encased it in a simple yet gratifying love story that didn’t come off forced and boring. It hit all the right beats in the time allotted with it being a one-shot. Another plus Kasa and Jessie’s relationship, both characters are likeable and Kasa isn’t slapped into a “damsel in distress” cliché the moment the antagonist come back to shake things up. Jessie’s narration is solid and well done.
The art does good with its side of the story telling epically towards the end were the narrative becomes more aggressive. The only real nitpick is that a good portion of the book is laced with dark panels. Mind you some of them are warranted but some feel to be a bit much and almost smother the panels.
There are a few different ways that creative team on Freedom Run could have went that would have hurt the overall experience but it did a good job avoiding that. They knew that they had strong charters it’s also a style of storytelling that Assailant Comics are not really known for, but with an outcome like Freedom Run would be great to see them do more.
Writer: Chris Charlton Artist: Brain Latimer Publisher: Assailant Comics Price: Print - $4.99 Digital - $.99 Release Date: 7/9/14 Format: One-Shot, Print/Digital Website