Review – Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #4 (of 6) (BOOM! Studios)

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Click to enlarge.

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: INJ Culbard
Release Date: 23rd December, 2015

As the full extent of the potential alien invasion is revealed, the stakes continue to rise in the latest instalment of Abnett and Culbard’s Wild’s End.  Once again, this issue sees our heroes split into three distinct groups; Susan and Peter, who are continuing to try and reach civilisation to raise the alarm; Alph and Fawkes, who are accompanying the military in their investigation of the crash site – or should that be crash sites?; and Clive, who is still recovering from being shot, and who finds himself bonding somewhat with Major Upton.

Once again this is very much a slow-burning, old-school approach to science fiction, although if the previous series has taught us nothing else, it’s we should expect a sharp uptick in both pace and action as the story nears its conclusion.    In fact, that uptick may be set to happen sooner rather than later, particularly if the latter half of this issue is anything to go by.

Abnett is clearly having an absolute blast with the regional dialect, particularly with young Alph and Fawkes, churning out several chuckle-worth colloquialisms amidst the creeping sense of sci-fi dread.  The characterisation remains spot-on throughout, with the supporting cast all playing their roles beautifully, from gruff Ministry of Defence suits to comically overwhelmed soldiers.  It’s safe to say that this story would undoubtedly still work extremely well with human protagonists, but there’s just something about the inclusion of anthropomorphic animals that helps give the series that little something extra; a sense of small-town rural charm that really helps enhance its overall impact.

Helping immeasurably with that sense of charm and character is the typically stellar work of INJ Culbard, who continues to pack a tremendous amount of expression into his relatively straightforward artistic style.  Equally as comfortable with prolonged animal conversations as he is with ray-guns and disintegrations, his flat, vibrant colours give Wild’s End an impressive picturebook aesthetic that I absolutely adore.  He also gets plenty of opportunity to ramp things up during the latter stages of this issue as part of the aforementioned uptick in action.

While it’s not guaranteed to appeal to everyone, there’s something about the unusual blend of talking animals and Victorian-style alien invasion carnage that truly appeals to me.  The fact that this brilliant conceit is being executed by one of my favourite creative partnerships is merely the cherry on the sundae, and following on the heels of fantastic stories like The New Deadwardians and Dark Ages, my lifelong vow to pick up any title where Abnett and Culbard work together is looking like it’ll be a fairly easy one to keep.  Highly recommended, folks…  in case you hadn’t worked that out already.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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