It’s been a long time since my last visit to the world of Kurt Busiek’s Autumnlands series, and with this in mind I was initially concerned that I wouldn’t quite know what was going on in this high-concept comic anymore. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised and although it’s clear that much has taken place since I last read this series, I never felt overwhelmed by the information I was being given. This leads me to the conclusion that while this may not be the perfect jumping-on point for all readers, if you’re interested in picking up the Autumnlands this issue is probably the best opportunity you’ll get for some time. Indeed, this arc is looking likely to go to some very interesting places. I’m most fascinated by the origins of the single human character in this book, Learoyd the so-called ‘Great Champion’, whose connection to this bizarre reality is significant but as of yet unclear. Hints at some kind of futuristic war involving humans have not gone unnoticed and I can’t wait to find out what exactly has happened to our species in this story, and just how that is linked to the creation of this complex society of anthropomorphic animals. While the origins of Learoyd will be exciting to discover, the character himself still leaves something to be desired. I suppose it could be argued that his blunt persona and resistance to accept what he’s seeing is quite possibly how a human would respond to being thrown into such a bizarre environment. That being said, this bad attitude Learoyd has is ultimately making him feel a bit one-note. It’s quite ironic that the one human character in this book is the one character I feel the least connected to, but frankly the animal characters in this story have been more engaging to watch develop. The backstabbing and power struggles still taking place in the animal community primarily between my favourite character – the warthog sorceress Gharta – and the arrogant owl Sandorst continues to be perhaps the strongest ongoing plot thread in this series.
The artwork by relative newcomer Benjamin Dewey is just as strong as when I last read this book back in January, and remains fantastically coloured by Jordie Bellaire. The former breathes much humanity into the array of species in this book making them all easy to empathise with, whilst the latter uses mostly muted colours which give the surroundings in this book a rather ominous feel which reflects the dangers hiding round every corner.
The Autumnlands is back and fires out the starting gate with an impressive seventh issue. Relatively welcoming to newcomers whilst developing the ongoing plot and building the world in which it is set, this instalment manages to juggle several tasks with great success. The artwork accompanying Busiek’s ambitious story also remains strong, meaning that aside from some minor gripes there’s really no reason you shouldn’t give this book a go.
Writer: Kurt Busiek Artist: Benjamin Dewey Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 11/11/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital