Tooth and Claw is the latest title from Kurt Busiek, whose previous work on books such as Astro City and Marvels has been adored by fans across the world. With such a good reputation a lot was expected from Busiek’s newest offering, a book that he has described as a “big, sprawling fantasy series about animal people.” And yes, that probably is the easiest way of explaining the concept of Tooth and Claw. Our guide through this unusual world is Dunstan, a young dog who is soon to inherit some important responsibilities from his father – the trade-master of the seventeenth city. Meanwhile a sorceress named Gharta of Daiir (who just so happens to be a Warthog), is trying to stop magic from fading as it has been in recent times. Magic is a hugely important force in this world, and the results of its loss would be catastrophic. As a result, Gharta concludes it must be saved at any cost! Seeming as the last few sentences of this review talked about an important dog trade-master, and a warthog sorceress it shouldn’t surprise you too much to know that it took me a little while to wrap my head around this world that Busiek is building. He really throws you into this society at the deep end with minimal explanation and, while at first it seemed like the result would be the book crumbling under its own ambition, it actually ends up working very well indeed. It is true though that for the first few pages of this comic I felt overwhelmed by what was going on and thought that perhaps this book wasn’t for me. However if you too feel this way upon your first read, don’t be put off! While personally I don’t think Tooth and Claw makes a very good first impression, the further into the issue I got the more I began to really enjoy the tale being told.
Suffice to say, by the time I got to the final page I was sold and ready to sign up for issue two. The story of Tooth and Claw, while a bit wobbly at first, really grows into something very exciting in the duration of this issue. This all culminates in Gharta paying a huge price in order to keep magic alive, a price that also impacts Dunstan in a very big way. Not only this but the final few pages of this book offer intriguing glimpses of what is to come in this series, that should pique the interest of any fantasy fan.
Of course a big part of Tooth and Claw’s success lies with artist Benjamin Dewey, who along with superstar colourist Jordie Bellaire brings Busiek’s bizarre world alive. The design of the characters and scenery of this book is wonderfully imaginative, and after a while it’s surprising how human these so-called “animal people” come across. By the end of this issue, against all odds, I felt invested in these characters and excited to see where this story will take them next.
To conclude, Tooth and Claw #1 is awesome. While the vast story that Busiek is telling at first seems a little too ambitious for its own good, the creases iron out by the end of the issue and what you’re left with is a very promising new title. After just one issue I feel attached to these characters and eager to see where Busiek takes them next. And if the great story and beautiful art aren’t enough to persuade you to pick this up, how about that it’s 44 ad-free pages for just $2.99? You owe it to yourself to give this book a try.
Writer: Kurt Busiek Artist: Benjamin Dewey Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 11/05/14 Format: Print/Digital