Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artwork: Rafael de Latorre
Colors: Rob Schwager
Release Date: 3rd August, 2016
The vast majority of us have pets, right? And I’m sure that a great many of us have, at some point or other, wished that our pets could talk, telling us how they’re feeling or what they might need? Well, what if they actually could? Would they be happy with us? Grateful? Frustrated? Maybe even angry?
Animosity, the latest series from upstart publisher Aftershock Comics, examines this concept in greater detail, but also extrapolates it to not just include the pets in our own household, but every animal in the world. All twenty quintillion of them.
In a split-second – an inexplicable moment subsequently dubbed “The Wake” – every single animal on Earth suddenly starts thinking and talking, throwing the world into absolute turmoil. Some are passive, loving, remorseful about their previous actions, while others are furious at their treatment at the hands of humans, flying into a blind rage and attacking everything around them. It’s a fascinating high-concept premise executed to absolute perfection, and it’s great to see that this isn’t merely a “what if all the animals went crazy and started attacking us?” horror yarn, but actually a far subtler tale that sees animals acting with a shocking level of quote-unquote “humanity”.
Initially at least, the story is based around a bloodhound named Sandor (a “Hound”, geddit?) and his human family, including his best friend, a young girl named Jesse. When the Wake happens, his family finds themselves beset on all sides by angry, aggressive animals, and Sandor risk his own life in an attempt to get everyone to safety. And that’s really all I’m going to say, as this is an opening chapter that really needs to be experienced for yourself. Trust me, you’ll thank me for it later.
While writer Marguerite Bennett’s recent efforts have seen her rapidly becoming one of the legitimate “ones to watch” in the comic book world, I don’t think her voice has ever felt as confident and assured as it does here. Walking the tightrope between black comedy, tender emotion and gut-wrenching horror, Bennett ensures that Animosity is a title that steadfastly refuses to be categorised. There are some profoundly moving scenes contained within these pages, and Bennett seemingly revels in juxtaposing these moments with brief, hilarious asides, giving the book a wonderful sense of unpredictability.
The defining moment of this first issue, as you might expect, is the breakdown of the moment when the Wake hits, a moment which is viewed from the perspective of a dozen different animals in different locations around the globe. Over the course of three consecutive double-page spreads, artist Rafael de Latorre gets to flex his not inconsiderable artistic muscle by taking us moment by moment through each of these animals’ individual awakenings, making for an utterly unique and visually stunning experience. He also fares spectacularly well throughout the rest of the issue, showcasing a visual flair that he didn’t necessarily get the chance to display in his previous Aftershock outing on Super Zero.
My only minor criticism about this opening chapter is the fact that it feels a little short, most likely due to the fact that a sizeable chunk of the page count is dedicated to the Wake itself. That said, if the only bad thing you can say about a comic is the fact that you wish there was more of it, I’d call that a pretty major success on the part of the creators.
Overall then, while this first issue doesn’t really give us any indication of what direction the series is going to take as it moves forwards, it does provide what is easily one of the most utterly intriguing and skilfully executed opening chapters to a new series this year. With its ability to make you recoil in horror, snort with laughter and feel a lump in your throat pretty much simultaneously, Animosity is an absolutely essential purchase.
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