Animals have gained both consciousness and the ability to speak in the first volume of Animosity. Can any of this bode well for humankind?
Animosity Vol. 1 (Aftershock Comics)
Titled “The Wake,” Animosity Vol. 1 collects the first four issues of the series, plus a one-shot set within the universe. The premise is simple enough: animals throughout the world have inexplicably gained a human level of consciousness and are now asserting themselves into a new societal hierarchy that humans are no longer in control of. Where the book really excels though, is its execution of the premise and the more personal narrative within.
The collection focuses primarily on the immediate aftermath of this event and the relationship between a young girl, Jesse, and her bloodhound, Sandor. Writer Marguerite Bennett does a wonderful job balancing the world building of the story along with the more personal narrative, and intertwining some of the exposition with more dramatic events. A great example of this comes early on as Sandor protects Jesse from a tiger. In a few quick panels, readers learn that this tiger isn’t a bloodthirsty mankiller just because it’s a tiger, but because her cubs were taken from her and sold on the black market while she was cruelly kept in a cage. This not only makes the tiger more empathetic, but it heightens the danger as it becomes clear she isn’t going to be easily placated.
The calm (and infanticide) before the storm…
The book is full of scenes like this, as Bennett takes full advantage of not only biodiversity, but individual experience to create a fully realized world in which the animals don’t all share the same point of view or the same goals, and many don’t get along with one another (often to humorous effect). It’s this nuance that differentiates Animosity from other apocalyptic tales like The Birds.
Artist Rafael de Latorre does a great job with his animal figures, maintaining a sense of visual realism while also comfortably diving into the absurd (pandas with rifles). De Latorre is able to give the animals an anthropomorphic quality without abandoning their anatomy and wandering into Bugs Bunny territory. Colorist Rob Schwager helps with this, using a naturalistic palette except in the most dramatic of moments.
De Latorre’s strengths also extend to his storytelling abilities, utilizing six panel pages to create a deliberate rhythm in the storytelling just before a sudden change occurs, as well as providing visual motifs throughout (the first issue contains two single page spreads of Jesse hugging Sandor, but the context of each image is fairly different).
Artist Juan Doe handles the one-shot towards the end of the collection, and his more exaggerated art style works well with this section’s more operatic tone, as the issue chronicles the change in power from man to animal and how one city has tried to transition peacefully. Doe’s dramatic character work with the animals creates a nice change of pace from the rest of the collection, helping to ease the reader into a different type of story.
Is It Good?
Animosity Vol. 1 is a great collection that does the apocalypse justice. Marguerite Bennett’s great sense of humor helps realize the characters while also taking advantage of the many different species of the family kingdom. Rafael de Latorre shows off his storytelling skills in his visuals while also maintaining a sense of realism in a story that could have easily broken suspension of disbelief. Animosity tries to find the human–and animal–in all of its characters, and becomes a thrilling read because of it.