Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artwork: Rafael de Latorre, Elton Thomasi
Colours: Rob Schwager
Lettering: Taylor Esposito, Marshall Dillon, Carlos M. Mangual
Release Date: 5th February 2020
In the aftermath of the liberation (and subsequent destruction) of the menacing Walled City, the remaining survivors, both human and animal, find themselves looking for a new leader – a role that young Jesse is unwilling to fill. Struggling to deal with her complicated feelings of grief following Kyle’s death, all she really wants to do is move on. However, when a random call for help from the nearby woods catches her attention, she and her faithful bloodhound Sandor waste no time in rushing headlong into yet another potentially dangerous situation.
But before all that, the latest volume of AfterShock’s Animosity starts with what is very much a transitional issue, focusing on some of the stories of the female survivors of the Walled City. Writer Marguerite Bennett provides us with an interesting snapshot of how the Wake has affected other people, and there are certainly some intriguing stories to be told, but it does feel a little inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, and the excess of dialogue overshadows the artwork in a fairly jarring fashion.
Back in the main story, Jesse and Sandor find themselves stumbling into a house populated by a coven of snakes whose initially intimidating demeanour gradually gives way to reveal an almost Zenlike quest for enlightenment and answers to the biggest question of all – what caused The Wake? It’s a great idea, and the characterisation of snakes as the keepers of knowledge is well-executed, particularly when their offer to give Jesse the chance to experience enlightenment and come face-to-face with “God” by injecting her with a small amount of their venom is revealed.
These moments give artists Rafael De Latorre and Elton Thomasi plenty of opportunity to flex their creative muscle, and while there are some occasional moments of roughness and loss of detail, for the most part this latest volume keeps up the high standard that we’ve all come to expect from the series. Rob Schwager’s colours give things a pleasing uniformity throughout, in spite of the different artists, and also really come to life during the venom-induced hallucinations.
However, while there are certainly some great visual moments during this diversion, for me this is perhaps one of the weakest side-stories of Animosity thus far, providing with a slightly over-indulgent look at the nature of ‘The Wake’ itself without actually giving us any answers. Now admittedly the bar has been set incredibly high so far by a series that has made my top 5 comics of the year in 2016, 2017 and 2018, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Thankfully, things pick up again outside of the Hibernaculum, with an incredibly moving exchange between Jesse and Sandor, and an equally powerful monologue by Potter ahead of Jesse’s surprise birthday party. As anyone familiar with The Walking Dead will readily attest to, things in the post-apocalyptic world never stay too happy for long, and it doesn’t take much time before Ben is kidnapped and taken to Texas by a group of bikers serving a mysterious “King.”
Oh, and as an added bonus, AfterShock also throw in “Animosity Tales”, an aquatic one-shot from Free Comic Book Day 2019, which serves as the icing on a delicious slice of dystopian, anthropomorphic cake.
As a collection, Volume 5 remains absolutely essential if you’ve been a fan of the series to this point, and Bennett is still finding ways to expand her world of talking and thinking animals in new and exciting ways. Granted, a lot of this particular volume feels a bit more like a diversion than an actual continuation of the main story, but the final pages give things a much-needed jolt, setting up an exciting new direction. Highly recommended, as always, and if you haven’t picked up this series so far, you seriously need to remedy that as soon as possible.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]