Busiek (Astro City) and Dewey (I Was the Cat) bring together high fantasy and brutal science fiction in this lush new series. When a world of anthropomorphic animals is drained of the magic that sustains it, its ruling wizards seek help from the past. The Great Champion—who, according to their legends, first loosed magic into the world—is called forth, only to be revealed as a fur-less, shell-less, scale-less human being from a violent, technologically advanced world. Between bison attacks, savage bats, and shifty trade partners, the Champion and the wizards must put aside their differences if they are to save, or even survive, their crumbling civilization. Dewey’s art is absolutely marvelous, bringing light and life to every exquisitely rendered panel. Busiek’s writing is similarly detailed: despite a hefty cast, plenty of fantasy conceits, and quite a bit of jargon, the world of the Autumnlands never feels overwhelming. The comic’s greatest strength is its characters, and the success of further volumes depends upon Busiek and Dewey’s willingness to invest as much time into their development as possible. A solid fantasy romp for adult readers interested in swords, sorcery, and struggle. (July)
In a world of anthropomorphic animals, the magic is fading. But the wizardess Gharta (a warthog) secretly gathers a group of wizards in the floating city of Keneil to carry out her forbidden plan to save them all, by reaching back in time before the dawn of magic and bringing forward the Great Champion to repeat his feat of loosing magic on the world. The spells they weave succeed in bringing them a creature they've never seen before—a human man—but they also unexpectedly cause Keneil to fall from the sky, killing hundreds. Survival intrigues follow, involving the prestige-seeking Councillor Sandorst (an owl-man) and wandering trader Goodfoot (a she-coyote), while the human, Learoyd—a savage and canny fighter with an off-putting manner—enlists the young terrier Dusty to help him defend them all from surface-dwelling bison-men. The combination of the fantasy setting, complex plotting, and strikingly opulent, realism-based artwork make this highly reminiscent of comics from the late publisher CrossGen—except for Learoyd's foul mouth, gory battles, and incidental full-frontal nudity. VERDICT Colorful, entertaining fantasy with a lighter tone than many Image titles. Recommended.—S.R.