Chip Zdarsky, Kris Anka, Matt Wilson, and Aditya Bidikar’s The White Trees is only a two-issue story, telling its whole tale over the course of around 60 pages. Yet at no point does the story feel rushed or incomplete. Every page matters, and the conclusion is a natural, satisfying ending to the tragic tale set up in the story’s first pages.
This half of the story begins and ends with bloodshed, as the main characters fight their way through swaths of their enemies and learn where their children are being kept. Yet within these fights and short scenes, Zdarsky’s distinctive characterization for each character shines through incredibly brightly. Krylos continues to be a stoic character with visible nuance in every panel where he appears. The opening scene also makes an interesting move in that it focuses on the humanity and lives of the “enemies” as the protagonists of the story ride them down and kill them. Small choices like this are littered throughout the two-issue miniseries, teasing a larger world that has yet to be explored. The ending of the story is incredibly powerful, as Krylos’s character reaches its natural resting point, and the plot of the miniseries ends. Yet while this story has clearly reached its end, Zdarsky has left so much room to explore the world of Blacksand.
Kris Anka and Matt Wilson continue to be absolutely stunning on this book. There isn’t a single panel that looks mundane, even the skies are beautifully colored whenever they appear. Anka’s use of paneling and perspective defines each character and their relationships with one another from the very first page. The body language and facial expressions are also incredibly effective, as characters’ emotions and feelings are clear without necessitating any words. In addition, the use of color for effect works incredibly well – there is a blank page towards the end covered in just one color, and it is possibly the most powerful page of the entire miniseries. There are many silent pages that set a distinct tone for the book, as Anka and Wilson do an excellent job as storytellers. Aditya Bidikar’s letters are also very well done. with rough word balloons and caption boxes fitting the style and tone of the series.
While this issue is the conclusion to the brief story of The White Trees, Zdarsky has put in effort to make the world of Blacksand feel larger than just this one story. This effort has paid off dividends, as there seems to be endless potential for further stories in Blacksand. As Zdarsky and Anka’s first major foray into fantasy, this series has been a massive success, and readers can only hope that there will be more content in this universe.