James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas’ The Woods has shined in previous volumes. Thus far, the series has been characterized by an endearing combination of heartfelt character drama and creative sci-fi lore and creature designs. Does The Woods Volume 6: The Lost meet the high bar established by previous volumes?
The Woods Vol. 6: The Lost (BOOM! Studios)
Volume six picks up right where volume five left off, with the murderous Horde having been temporarily fended off and Karen feeling more pressure than ever to save her classmates’ lives. Karen and Calder get the bulk of the focus and character development in this volume, and both of their arcs throughout it are very well-done. Tynion and Dialynas do a fantastic job of depicting Karen’s emotional turmoil, as we see her break down, push others away, struggle with letting them back in, and ultimately do her best to live up to the high expectations everyone has for her. She is the series’ biggest badass after all, and she certainly lives up to that status here. It’s important that she struggles with her place and her purpose, however. Rather than just being a generically cool fighter, Karen is a multi-faceted warrior who is all the more relatable and easy to root for the more the creative team delves into her psyche and insecurities.
Speaking of badassery, Calder also steps up to the plate in this volume. After all that his character was put through in volumes four and five between shifting allegiances and emotional abuse from his brother, Calder receives his most moving and defining character moments in volume six. Calder, like Karen, progresses in a way that feels organic and absolutely necessary for the character, and as Tynion and Dialynas delve into his backstory, the reader gains more and more love for him in the present. This series has excelled at showing how all of its characters have grown up quickly since being transported to the dangerous alien world they now call home, and Karen and Calder’s character arcs in volume six are perhaps the best examples of this. There’s more to this collection than just drama and trauma, however. There’s humor and warmth between the action and constant danger, and this volume’s light-hearted moments help make the drama that much more intense and meaningful.
Tynion’s superb dialogue and Dialynas’ strong pencils, particularly where facial expressions and monster design are concerned, make an amazing combination. Josan Gonzalez’ vivid colors further enhance the art, making The Woods Volume 6: The Lost a collection that is every bit as fun to look at as it is to read. This creative team put their foot on the gas back in volume one and have only picked up speed since. Twenty-four issues in, this series has yet to disappoint.