Review: The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw #3

It’s quite difficult writing these Autumnlands reviews because there are only so many ways that I can write “this series is great.” Regardless, here we go as I once again praise this series for being awesome in almost every way. Writer Kurt Busiek is doing a fantastic job fleshing out his world while also moving his story forward, while the art team of Benjamin Dewey and Jordie Bellaire also continue to impress. If you’re still not reading The Autumnlands, then you need to rectify that error as soon as possible. The best thing about this issue is how interestingly the relationships between the characters in this series are changing. More and more we’re seeing arguments, betrayals, lies and ulterior motives that I can’t wait to see play out in future issues. Not only that but Kurt Busiek is really making me feel for these characters; sorrow for the misunderstood sorceress Gharta and resentment for the arrogant owl Sandorst, which make these double-crosses and changing relationships all the more exciting. Busiek really is doing a great job building his world, developing characters and pushing the story along. My only problem with his writing stems from the one human character in the book, The Champion (who also goes by the name Steven T. Learoyd).

Tooth-&-Claw-#3-1-21-15Revealed last issue, this third instalment holds our first opportunity to get to know the only member of our species to show up in this book so far, and yet after finishing this issue I’m really not sure how I feel about him. In a book that has so many genuinely fresh and interesting characters like the aforementioned Gharta and Sandorst, this character sticks out as one that at the moment feels fairly generic. That’s not to say he doesn’t show promise. I really like what his character is bringing to the dynamic of the book, and his reaction to being brought into this bizarre world of talking animals I feel was quite realistic. Additionally his mysterious past also seems very interesting, as it appears he has been pulled from a very technologically advanced human war. That being said, these intriguing aspects to his character are a little bogged down by Learoyd’s hard-ass replies to almost everything said to him. These were fine at first, but after a while made me feel like Learoyd had been plucked out of an explosive summer blockbuster into a much smarter film – in other words, he doesn’t seem as well-written at this point as the rest of the characters. However, Busiek has proven himself to be a great writer in this series and his many past projects, so I do feel that I’ll come round to Learoyd in future issues. He just could have made a better first impression.

But aside from this one character, I really am enjoying the story and cast of Tooth and Claw immensely. But another reason I love this book is the artwork by artist Benjamin Dewey and colorist Jordie Bellaire. Both are doing a phenomenal job on this title and are remarkably good at making the talking animals look and feel very human, through the many emotive facial expressions on display as well as the lavish costumes. This art team really know how to make a comic-book look mystical and magical, and I think they were the perfect choice to take on this series.

To conclude, while a few issues I have with the human character hold it back from perfection, The Autumnlands is still a must-read. I’m really enjoying watching this series progress; characters are getting more interesting, the storyline is heating up, and the artwork continues to look great. To put it simply, The Autumnlands is one of the best books that Image is publishing right now, and it is one that you really should be reading.

Score 4/5

Writer: Kurt Busiek Artist: Benjamin Dewey Colorist: Jordie Bellaire Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 1/21/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital