Review – Animosity Evolution #4 (AfterShock Comics)

Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artwork: Eric Gapstur, Rob Schwager (colours)
Lettering: Marshall Dillon
Release Date: 14th February 2018

“The greatest crimes are not crimes that go unsolved, but crimes that lay the blame on the innocent.”

Animosity: Evolution – the spin-off series from Marguerite Bennett’s critically acclaimed Animosity – continues this week in the wake of Animata soldier Deacon’s death as the result of what appeared, on the surface at least, to be a botched assassination attempt.

Elsewhere, Octavia and Penelope’s investigations put them in a life-or-death situation at the hands of Mr Kazi, a gangland boss-style snapping turtle with some Animata upgrades of his own. And, at the top of the pile, the crown rests heavy on the head of Wintermute as she continues to struggle with food supplies and civil unrest, finding herself beset on all sides by would-be traitors and usurpers, only really being able to confide in her loyal human Adam North.

This is a very different story from the main Animosity series, with Bennett weaving a complex tale of political intrigue and secret conspiracies.  The main series follows a group of survivors making their way through the larger world and all its chaos and uncertainty, while this book is more about power struggles and the cursed chalice of leadership.    To look at it another way, if Animosity is The Walking Dead then Evolution is Game of Thrones, which is pretty much the best way I can think of to highlight the difference between the two.

The humour that frequently permeates the main title is reigned in significantly here, with a far more serious approach – not to mention Bennett’s typically frank look at the nature of power and inequality – giving the book a sense of gravitas that perhaps belies its ‘talking animal’ veneer. There’s a lot of moral ambiguity at play too, with everything bathed in shades of grey and nothing falling cleanly into ‘good’ or ‘evil’, particularly during the opening scene which sees Gwendolyn leading the Raiders on a mission to forcibly remove a community so that Wintermute can use their land to farm.

Gapstur’s visual style remains clean and polished throughout, with some truly expressive human and animal protagonists – a vital component to what is a fairly dialogue-heavy series.   It also seems like every issue Bennett gives Gapstur an opportunity to really cut loose and give us an outburst of shocking, dynamic action, and that trend continues in emphatic fashion here with a genuinely jaw-dropping splash page near the end of the issue.

The mystery only promises to deepen as the series continues, and this latest issue ends with a fairly shocking change of demeanour from a small group of established characters.   Bennett continues to add layer upon layer to her richly developed Animosity universe, and while the Evolution series is definitely more of a slow-burner than the main title, there’s still more than enough of the same blend of drama and emotion on display here to make this a highly recommended purchase.

Rating: 4/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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