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‘Wild’s End’ TPB (review)

Written by Dan Abnett 
Art by I.N.J. Culbard
Published by BOOM! Studios

 

BOOM! Studios’ Wild’s End, created by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard, stands out as a unique trilogy that fuses the charm of anthropomorphic characters with the ominous undertones of an alien invasion, all within the quaint setting of a 1930s English village.

The collected trade paperback spans three volumes—First Light, The Enemy Within, and Journey’s End—each contributing its own distinct flavor to a saga that’s as captivating as it is chilling.

The trilogy commences with First Light, and like many first acts, it eases into the story. Early scenes are dedicated to setting the stage and introducing the diverse cast of animal villagers, from the cautious fox, Clive, to the spirited dog, Fawkes. This gradual build-up might test the patience of readers craving action.

However, as the plot unfolds, Dan Abnett skillfully unveils layers of each character, exposing intricate motives and vulnerabilities that create a tapestry of interaction that’s both deeply human and engagingly anthropomorphic, drawing readers deeper into the story.

By the middle of this first part, the pace quickens, and the stakes rise with the unexpected crash of a mysterious ship, marking the arrival of enigmatic and hostile aliens. This shift not only heightens the tension but also showcases Abnett’s prowess in creating an absorbing narrative that deftly mixes classic science fiction elements with pastoral drama.

Culbard’s artwork in Wild’s End is nothing short of evocative. His clean lines and expressive characters perfectly capture the era’s aesthetic while infusing a modern vibrancy that brings the story to life. The quaintness of the village contrasts sharply with the eerie and often chaotic encounters with the aliens, enhancing the storytelling through visual means. Culbard’s ability to convey emotion through the anthropomorphic faces of the characters adds a layer of depth to Abnett’s writing, making the community’s fear, confusion, and camaraderie palpable.

Throughout the trilogy, Abnett excels in character development. Each volume peels back more layers, allowing the reader to connect deeply with the characters’ struggles and triumphs. Themes of fear, trust, and survival resonate throughout the narrative, painted against the broader canvas of invasion and resistance. These themes are explored through dialogue and action and the fabric of the story’s setting—the isolated, idyllic world that is both a refuge and a prison.

The trilogy’s finale, Journey’s End, attempts to wrap the intense drama with a hopeful and incomplete resolution. The story concludes on an upbeat note, with our characters seemingly safe and victorious, yet many questions remain unanswered. The aliens’ origins, motives beyond sheer destruction, and the future of Wild’s End are left to the reader’s imagination. While some may appreciate this open-ended conclusion, allowing for personal interpretation or potential future narratives, others might find it somewhat unsatisfying, longing for a more definitive closure.

Wild’s End is an engrossing blend of quiet English countryside and the terror of an alien threat told through refreshingly non-human perspectives that offer a unique twist on familiar narrative arcs.

Although it starts slow, the rich world-building and character development invite the reader into a deeply engaging story that is hard to leave. Despite the unresolved mysteries that linger at the end, Abnett and Culbard’s creation is a compelling read, a testament to their combined ability to craft an intimate and expansive narrative.

Wild’s End is thoroughly recommended for graphic novel lovers seeking something that crosses traditional genre boundaries with elegance and emotional depth. The lingering questions invite us to revisit and speculate, perhaps a subtle nod to the classic serialized adventures that inspire it.

Final Score: 5 out of 5

 

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