Written by: Kurt Busiek
Art by: Ben Dewey & Jordie Bellaire
The inherent problem with fantasy stories is that they are, by their own nature, large, plodding, and filled with characters. This is all perfectly fine and enjoyable when in the form of novels, where a reader can consume a story at his/her own pace; however, when it comes to comics, slow and methodical doesn’t always feel like the greatest payoff when it takes a month for the next installment to come out. Perhaps this is why I’ve seen so few full on fantasy stories presented as comics.
Issue 5 of The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw, much like Issue 4, is more setup to a big payoff that won’t happen for another month. The good news is that Kurt Busiek knows how to write and build tension, but the bad news is we have yet another wait in front of us until everything in the last three issues pays off.
That, honestly, is a big commitment to ask of readers.
But that’s the negative. Let’s talk the positives, and for Issue 5, there are a lot of them. For a setup comic, a lot happens, and even though many of the events that take place feel somewhat small, the sheer amount of them create a chapter that’s rife with movement and intrigue. Sandorst has imprisoned Gharta, Goodfoot is about to execute her big betrayal, and Learoyd is working towards some very explosive counterattack.
Dusty and his friends are left in the middle, all of them confused and a bit afraid.
TA:TaC is a series that really knows how to handle its intrigue and characters, and I’ve gotten some very heavy A Song of Ice and Fire vibes from it. No one has been executed yet, but we still have another issue before this little arc wraps itself up. That’s plenty of time for a main character death, a third betrayal, and maybe the introduction of even more characters.
I can’t help but realize that all of this work is for something that, ultimately, is insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Goodfoot and the Buffalo Tribe are but minor problems in comparison to Learoyd being stranded in a place utterly foreign to him and a world that’s rapidly losing magic. TA:TaC is looking like a series that will run for a long, long time, and if Kurt Busiek can keep the likes of a simple tribe of Bison interesting and threatening, then this comic is going to become an absolute masterpiece when something really devastating happens.
Those working on TA:TaC are asking a big commitment of their readers, but as of now, they haven’t given me a reason to doubt any faith I’ve put in them. Issue 5 is good as were the four before it. If you’re this far in, you already know that you want to keep going. If you haven’t made the jump, well, you’ve got plenty of reading material until the big payoff next month.