The focus of the second arc of The Woods has revealed its focus and made for some great storytelling. It’s clear at this point that the arc will focus on a single character per an issue and develop that character. With the first arc ending after four issues we’ll just have to wait and see if all of the characters are covered this arc, but one thing is clear… you will have a new favorite character each damn issue. Don’t get me wrong I like the cast of characters, I’ve just had my favorites from the beginning and Karen was my front-runner. After her character driven story last issue it only made it easier to like her, but this time we’re focusing on Calder. You know the goofy guy that’s always in trouble and was brought along for his collection of knives. Well it turns out we don’t actually know anything about Calder, at least not until this issue.
We start off with him a year earlier sitting in his room with a door off its hinges being used as a table top. He’s recreated Hannibal crossing the aps and it’s quite possibly the nerdiest thing we’ve seen. It’s a completely different side of Calder for sure. It’s also interrupted by his older brother that looks a lot like him, just with longer hair. His brother goes to a different school and through their conversation we learn that Calder isn’t a bad kid, but he takes the rap for his brother to basically protect his grandma… even if it means looking like a bad kid in his grandma’s eyes.
Things progress on the alien planet as we catch a glimpse of what Adrian is seeing and it’s not comforting. Afterwards we find out that Calder has a crazy plan to catch on of the bears that were hunting them earlier and no surprise... no one wants to go along with it. With the crazy Assassin’s Creed dressed dudes we find out that the forest feeds on blood and something is coming to help deliver!
The character development is really rich in this issue. You might think that you can see how James Tynion is going to go with the story, but you’ll be wrong. Every twist he can make, he does, and that keeps Calder’s journey not only interesting, but believable. I recently read another series that attempted this type of storytelling and it didn’t turn out anywhere near the quality here. Where that series delivered an issue of filler, Tynion has used the past to show us what the characters are really capable of and it’s fantastic because now they can go back to growing in small doses as the story continues.
Of course I’m impressed with Michael Dialynas’ artwork on this issue. As great as the planet looks and as familiar, yet strange as the animals are it’s the simple things that make Dialynas’ artwork shine; for instance the character’s facial expressions. You will see Calder run the gambit from happy, to afraid and angry. It continues to impress me how Dialynas makes these characters come to life with just a smile or a scrunched brow.
A great artist needs a great colorist and Josan Gonzalez is that great colorist. When the story jumps to the past Gonzalez makes sure to keep the colors in the same range as the present. You might see a deeper flatter purple or a familiar green and that all serves to make the transition back and forth easier. Otherwise it would be a huge shock each time the story changed and that would absolutely kill the storytelling.
I can’t say enough about this series. It not only continues to surprise me with each issue, but it maintains the same level of storytelling as the first issue. It doesn’t have peaks and valleys of improvement, it’s just slowly rising to the top; and that’s where it will stay… at the top of my list.
Writer: James Tynion IV Artist: Michael Dialynas Colorist: Josan Gonzalez Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/1/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital