Talking animals, mystical cultures and magic…no, this isn’t Dark Crystal, it’s Image’s newest comic, Tooth & Claw. Is it good?
Tooth & Claw #1 (Image Comics)
Writer Kurt Busiek composes a fantasy that might not be everyone’s up of tea, but it’s this critic’s cup of tea, that is for sure. Let’s get some of the negatives out of the way before we begin, shall we? For starters, this comic is very wordy and light on action and I’m more than certain a lot of folks won’t give this book a chance past the first two pages. Fortunately, this book rewards those that keep reading, because it doesn’t cater to the ADD crowd and snatch up your interest as fast as it can. No, instead it rewards those who take time to learn about the world and its culture. Others might think, “talking animals, yeah okay” and that’s fair, but simply put, these animals are so well drawn and animated you’d think they were real. Which is one reason why it’s so damn Jim Henson like, because you believe they are real and not some cartoon.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s dig in.
Fairies as fire, cool!
Busiek has crafted a very robust world, one that probably took countless biographies and histories to write before ever starting this script. It feels lived in, real and endless in its mysteries. By no means is he filling us in as fast as possible, but instead revealing the story and history of the world in a calm and patient way. This adds to the mystique but also drives your interest in the world.
The comic opens on a boy named Dunstan. He’s a dog and son to the head of trade for his city. We learn from him how his people, who are made up of all sorts of animal species, have mastered magic, live in a floating city in the sky and worship many gods. They hold themselves in high regard, largely because they wield magic. They rule over the animals that must use zeppelin-like travel to reach the city and see them as lesser, almost animalistic people who only interact to trade. They trade for magic, but we quickly learn Dunstan’s dad doesn’t mind short changing them and killing them on a whim.
The story is driven from a fear of these powerful creatures; a fear of losing their power, because the magic is slowly depleting from the world. A plan is concocted that’s risky and hopes to bring a powerful creature that began magic from the past into the present. This itself brings with it a whole slew of questions and will certainly be one of the more compelling things to discover in the second issue. From there, there’s a great calamity, creatures die and fevers run high. It’s all around a very epic and compelling story.
Tiger nudity now I’ve seen everything.
The art is by Ben Dewey who draws out of this world (literally here), and it solidifies the seriousness of the story. No matter what species, be it owl, dog or bison, this man can draw the most realistic looking creatures. They are humanoid in nature, with hands and feet, but they still maintain their animal features. On top of all this, his ability to draw landscapes and backgrounds is astounding. It all looks so real. Considering we’ve got animals talking that’s incredibly important in keeping the story grounded in some kind of reality.
Put on some pants dog, you’re…waking up?
Is It Good?
I had no idea what I was in for, but quickly found something as magical as any Jim Henson nostalgia dream. The characters are vivid and real and the magical world they live in is truly captivating. If you like fantasy, magic or out-of-this-world worlds, check this comic out!