Rating: 5/5 – A Word Building and Epic First Issue.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
Kurt Busiek has had a lot of success within the world of comics. His Astro City series was and still remains a critical success almost twenty years after its original creation. He’s also had long and defining runs on Marvel’s Avengers, Dark Horse’s Conan series and DC’s Superman. Busiek is now returning to Image with his newest creator owned series Tooth & Claw. I think this may be his strongest debut on a series yet, and that’s high praise! Busiek, along with artist Benjamin Dewey and colorist Jordie Bellaire are world building in Tooth and Claw, creating a fantastic first issue that feels both epic and mythical.
There are no humans in Tooth and Claw, although you get the sense throughout that there potentially could be. This world is full of anthropomorphic animals, all gorgeously rendered by Dewey. When this issue opens, we’re introduced to what will most likely be one of the main characters of the book, Dunstan, who happens to be a dog. As Dunstan partners with his father on a trading mission with an imposing looking bison, Dewey begins to amaze us with his pencil work. Detailed floating cities and all sorts of animals that have such life and emotion in their movements and facial expressions are all presented to us over the course of this first issue’s forty-plus pages. Bellaire’s colors give the book a mystical look especially with the predominant magical themes, and this is one of those books where the lettering, by Comicraft, also absolutely stand out because it’s so well done. This may be one of Image’s best looking books and that’s saying something. Tooth and Claw looks as though it took months and months to create as there isn’t a page that goes by that isn’t packed with gorgeous detail. As good as the art is, the story is just as strong.
Through the character Dunstan, we see just what type of world this is. Busiek is just scratching the surface of this world that that includes seventeen floating cities, gods, politics, magic and more. It’s tough to mention everything that’s introduced to the reader, but at no time do any of the concepts and ideas introduced feel cheap or rushed. I got a sense that this was inspired by Kamandi, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, and that’s a great thing. There’s just so much here and the foundations to what should be an immense story are starting to be laid out. Magic is fading away, and the leaders of the seventeen cites come together in order to bring it back. With that simple concept we witness wonderful and easy to follow complexity. Image continues to publish some of the best comics in the industry and Tooth and Claw is yet another example of this, in what may be their best example this year and that’s no small feat given the year Image has had!
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture