We’re three issues into “The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw” and what I find myself appreciating above all else is how much we’re getting to know its world thanks to Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey. It’s not a fast-paced comic, but here you actually don’t want it to be; with each new concept and group introduced to us, it makes the overall experience that much richer.
With the champion finally present (and, as I’d wager most readers suspected, human), it feels like Busiek’s starting to set up the next story arc or two. We’re seeing the character’s military mind at work — understanding the impossibility of defending the fallen city — even as we also get a more than understandable sense of bewilderment at his plunging into a world of talking animals.
The various animal characters of “The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw” #3 are also becoming more defined with each new installment. Sandorst’s ability to pick the wrong side while being self-serving makes him stand out a great deal, for example, even as one continues to warm to the few characters that understand the hideous danger they’re all in and that the champion is their only chance of survival. Even minor characters like Goodfoot stand out, although it’s hard to keep from wanting to scrub one’s skin every time you see her.
Dewey and Jordie Bellaire continue to really impress me. Through “Astro City,” I know that Busiek can build worlds well, but the art here is really gorgeous. As entrancing as Dewey’s “Tragedy Series” online comics have been, this has been an eye-opening experience. Everything from giraffes in dresses to buildings crumbing and tilting are carefully drawn and, while the pages are incredibly detailed, both Dewey and Bellaire make sure that nothing is overwhelming. The backgrounds are a mixture of distinct and muted, the duo knowing when something should be pushed up alongside the characters and when it can quietly fade back so that it doesn’t distract. And the animals’ faces? Well, let’s just say that they ultimately sell the visuals. Bhord’s furry face, for example, is simultaneously adorable and confused; I love how he looks when the champion won’t fight him and his subsequent perplexity.
“The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw” #3 continues to tell its story quite well and, while I’d be shocked that people hadn’t already been hooked after the first two issues, this clinches that being the case. Here’s hoping we can journey through the Autumnlands for quite some time to come.