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Discerning the core appeal of ‘Tooth & Claw’

by  in Comic News Comment
Discerning the core appeal of ‘Tooth & Claw’

Often when one runs across an engaging new series, it is fairly easy to identify the prime factor that serves as the appeal/pull for the project. In the case of Tooth & Claw, the new fantasy series (replete with talking animals and magic) by writer Kurt Busiek, artist Ben Dewey and colorist Jordie Bellaire, no one factor can be identified.

For starters–in the “credit where credit is due” department, there would be no series had Busiek not initially conceived the series, prior to seeking out Dewey. Busiek has known since the initial 1994 success of Marvels that no matter how great a writer he may be, the lynchpin to a project’s success or failure is how effectively the artist interprets his script.

Tooth & Claw is a return to a genre that Busiek clearly enjoys considering 1997’s The Wizard’s Tale; his Morgan Le Fay arc which opened his Heroes Return Avengers series in 1998; and 2003’s Arrowsmith. As much as I love when Busiek writes mainstream superhero comics, he seems at his best when he is world-building, as with the award-winning Astro City–and now Tooth & Claw.

Busiek has given Dewey a script he clearly was eager to sink his teeth into with this first issue, which weighs in at the large size of 44 pages. Consider the following page (the first of a two-page homage to N.C. Wyeth’s book illustrations).

A Busiek script drawn by Dewey–I was interested from the start. But what has me so eager to see where this series goes is Bellaire’s coloring. She has always ranked among my favorite colorists of recent years–but she truly seems to be pushing herself to broaden her abilities (something I would not believe possible) with this series. In an era where muted colors are often the favorite of her peers, she chooses to make some bold choices that boost the inherent energy coursing through Dewey’s art.

This issue covers a lot of ground–introducing a slew of characters and a world ripe for exploring for readers. As I approach the end of 2014, it’s nice to have a clear candidate to include in my top 10 series of this year.

[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

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