Kurt Busiek knows how to write a compelling story. What started, to me, as another anthropomorphic fantasy tale has come a long, long way. As Dusty and Learoyd continue their journey into the depths of the Autumnlands, this comic’s plot just keeps getting weirder (in the best way possible). Autumnlands #10 brings together elements of pulpy fantasy and sci-fi and combines them effortlessly in a way that only Busiek and Dewey can make work. Dusty and Learoyd's journey has brought them to the mountains, searching for the cause of the plague that was spreading through the countryside. During their hike, a diseased goat tries to attack Dusty, only to be dispatched by Learoyd without a second thought. Somehow being this close to the mountains has given Dusty's magic a significant boost and he is able to heal the goat's disease. Together the three of the them travel deeper into the forest and closer to the heart of the mountain. The goat reveals to them that his village has been afflicted as well, and was in search of a cure himself when he encountered the two adventurers. Without warning one of the mountains explodes, sending all three of them to the ground. A shockwave rips apart the forest, and all of the wildlife stampedes in an attempt to escape. The issue ends with a giant mutated mountain goat starring the heroes down, leaving us eager for next month's issue. The Autumnlands hide many secrets, and there are so many questions that need to be answered. Busiek is taking his time, and revealing only tiny details, which only adds to my curiosity, but also to the mythic quality of this world. The answers are close though, and I hang onto every mention of mythos, clinging to the pieces, trying to figure out what the Autumnlands truly is.
Every story is a quest of some sort, some admittedly more exciting than others. For me though, a story hits its stride in the middle of a quest, when the heroes are still seeking something. Fellowship of the Ring is my favorite because none of the characters are tied up in the future political entanglements in the later installments. It is simply get from point A to point B, with a lot of action in between. Autumnlands, I believe is about to hit that stride. This comic was already fantastic, but ten issues in the story is really beginning to unfold. The Autumnlands themselves have been shown to us in pieces, we are as ignorant as the privileged wizards in their floating cities. And until Dusty's city crashes to the ground, we know nothing of the outside world. Busiek's greatest tool is his use of mystery and suspense. Sure, he has created this beautifully fleshed out world of wizards and heroes, and for some writers that alone would be an achievement, for Busiek though it isn't enough. He takes a perfectly entertaining fantasy story and adds deeper elements to it, tossing a human protagonist into an unlikely world, and adding sci-fi rumblings to a magical universe. The wires are being crossed in the best way possible, and when things finally explode, well, it'll be some of the best comic writing all year.
I find this comic increasingly difficult to describe to those who have never picked up an issue. For me it originally wasn't Busiek's name that got me to read issue #1, but rather Benjamin Dewey's art, which is remarkably unique, yet comfortably familiar. It's one of those comics that you kind of want to flip through first just to gaze at the art before you even read the story. After ten issues, I can confidently tell people that Autumnlands is like a 70s pulp Redwall with magic, some crazy weird sci-fi elements, and an R rating. So yeah, if you aren't reading it yet, and you like those things, do yourself a favor and pick up the first trade.
[button btn_url="" btn_color="teal" btn_size="large" btn_style="default" btn_outlined="no" link_target="blank" link_rel="" icon_left="" icon_right=""]Score: 4/5[/button]
The Autumnlands #10 Writer: Kurt Busiek Artist: Benjamin Dewey Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 4/13/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital