Four short stories in 32 pages means we get four chances to see how a story can unfold and in what way. Let’s check out the fourth issue in this series and answer the question on all our minds: is it good?
Amazing Forest #4 (IDW Publishing)
Stories range from the silly to the serious in this series and so far nearly every issue has been a winner. Sure, there are a few stories that weren’t my taste, but maybe they were yours. This issue has a story about killer teddy bears, a man’s best friend, a wild stallion that’s got the ladies in a small town horny as heck and a murder robot looking for a warm place to rest.
Why does this book matter?
Writers Erick Freitas and Ulises Farinas have proven their storytelling can get wickedly imaginative and imaginatively wicked. Each story delivers art from a wide spectrum and you’d be hard pressed to find anything as creative as this book every month.
The stories in this issue.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
As with most anthologies you really need to break down each story to see if the book is worth your buck. Let’s start with the first story about the murder robot, called Edith and the Murderbot. This story is drawn by Jelena Djordjevic with fine detail and a somewhat scary yet sad looking robot as the protagonist. Apparently these Murderbots have a reputation, but this one just wants to get warm and get a bit of oil in its joints. It’s one of those stories that plays with your expectations and it’s a lot of fun partially due to the solemn nature of the art, but also because of the wicked twist ending. If you dug Iron Giant you’ll love this.
The next story is called Caballo del Morte and the art is by Victor Puchalski. This story pops nicely with Puchalski’s art that has a comic strip sensibility and a lot of color. Panels are square, but also get wavy and later still it gets even funkier with characters leaning on word balloons. It gives the story an uneasy feel making the story seem psychedelic in nature. The story certainly fits the art as it’s silly, comical and ultimately all leading to a joke you might have guessed.
Following this story is Dog Eat World with art by Hyendo Park. This story all hinges on whether or not we can believe a man has uncovered his dog’s social media page. He soon sees his dog check in at a park and finds him walking a person. Mostly told with images it’s quick and tells a tale at face value, but you might want to go back and reread it to see some hidden clues. Park draws in a style that reminds me of Rafael Albuquerque. It’s highly detailed and incredibly expressive.
Finally, the last story is drawn by Adrian Bago Gonzalez and it’s titled Last of the Huggaboos. This is one of those fun stories that slowly builds towards a reveal you sort of expect but don’t want to believe. It has a nice sense of humor and a clever reveal buried in it about extracting children’s imaginations. Gonzalez draws (yet another in this issue) a trippy read this time in a Brendan McCarthy Zaucer of Zilk sort of way with bright colors mixing together into something a unicorn might throw up. In a good way.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The Huggaboos and Dog Eat World stories didn’t do it for me quite as much as I’d like, but they were fun nonetheless. Ultimately the Caballo del Morte story hinged on a much too silly story and an art style too obtuse to make the laughs work. Overall the mix of stories were too silly when they could have been a bit more eclectic.
You’ll love this robot story.
Is It Good?
One solid story mixed with three more that throw some fantastic art at you add up to a good read, but if you give this a chance you might just enjoy it more than me. That’s the beauty of short stories: they can work for anyone.