Review – Wild’s End #1 (of 6) (BOOM! Studios)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: I.N.J. Culbard
Release Date: 10th September 2014
H.G. Wells meets A.A. Milne in BOOM! Studios’ new series Wild’s End, as menacing mechanical aliens descend on a sleepy rural community in 1930’s Britain populated entirely by talking animals. This glorious clash of styles and genres is brought to you by the kings of the mash-up, Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard, the creative partnership behind The New Deadwardians (Vampires and Zombies in Victorian England) and Dark Ages (Medieval mercenaries and… monsters? Aliens?? Something horrible, anyway).
The first issue of this anthropomorphic drama introduces us to the inhabitants of Lower Crowchurch, giving us a firm understanding of this relaxed community and allowing us to get to know the key players in this six-part series. The characters are strong and distinctive, and to be honest, by about halfway through the book I’d pretty much forgotten that I was reading about talking animals. Which, in a lot of ways, sums up the true appeal of Wild’s End. The story itself is strong enough that it would undoubtedly work with almost any protagonists, but at the same time, the fact that the tale is set in what we’d usually consider to be a safe, child-friendly environment adds an extra thrill to proceedings that would otherwise be absent. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t Eeyore with an Uzi fending off alien invaders, but the introduction of such a violent, menacing threat to this otherwise relaxed world works fantastically well, giving this book a unique, engaging hook.
Full disclosure, there’s not a lot of action to be found in this opening chapter. Almost none, in fact. Instead, we are introduced to each of the main characters who – presumably – this story will revolve around as it moves forwards. We have Clive (a gruff, soft-spoken dog who previously served in the navy – an “old sea dog”, if you will), Gilbert (an aristocratic rabbit) Peter (a mink who works for the local newspaper, and who also serves as Gilbert’s ‘sidekick’), and Fawkes (a ne’er-do-well fox who serves as the first point of contact for the visitors, even if the rest of the village don’t exactly believe him).
It’s an inherent drawback to reviewing single issues of a larger story that each individual chapter may not necessarily tick every single box that I normally look for as a reviewer. Some issues will slow down the pace, providing a break between action or emotional beats. Some will be all action, bombarding the reader with dynamic conflict and shocking twists and turns. And others, like this one, will serve merely to lay the groundwork, to put all the pieces in place before the story itself is pushed forwards. At the end of the day though, the only real quality I look for in a first issue is… does it make me want to read the second issue? And in that respect, I absolutely cannot fault what Abnett and Culbard have done here, providing an intriguing hook to what promises to be a fantastically unique story.
Gorgeous artwork, engaging characters and the quirky combination of two familiar genres make Wild’s End something definitely worth seeking out, if only to get on board with this brilliantly creative tale before it really starts to pick up steam.
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The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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