Tyler’s Recommendations: Manhattan Project: The Sun Beyond the Stars #3
“It’s been a while since the last issue, but this week the intergalactic adventures of Yuri and Laika continue. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra have created one of the wildest comics around, and I’m always excited to read the next chapter.”
This week marks the return ofAbnett & Culbard’s breakout 2014 hit, Wild’s End. For Wild’s End, Abnett took the bare bones of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and recast it within a world populated by anthropomorphic animals. The result was a clever twist on the familiar tale of aliens invading a sleepy countryside hamlet, mixing thrills, humor, engaging characters and fantastic art. Most impressively, Abnett was able to invoke the cozy charm of another era (Britain between the World Wars) without ever sinking into rose-tinted nostalgia. The first series set a high bar, which, based on the initial issue, The Enemy Within is fully able to clear. Continue reading Review of Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1→
After spending the last five issues on the run from mysterious invaders, the gang of Wild’s End switches to offense. The previous chapter had concluded with Slipaway’s realization that they were unwittingly leading the creature towards a populous town. Having seen it already lay waste to one village, Slipaway declares that they cannot allow it to reach any others. And so, the motley assortment of characters who are the book’s heroes, resolve to make a stand against the creature, no matter what the odds. Now, Slipaway just needs to think up a plan. Soon.
One of the strongest features of this series has been Abnett’s excellent employment of tension. With each brush with one of the invaders, Abnett notches up the suspense, creating a very real feeling of dread. There is a true sense of events having built to this moment, when the counter-attack against the creature is launched. This is achieved not only through evoking a strong atmosphere, but also first-rate character work. Each of the participants feels like an individual, none of whom the reader wishes to see become the next victim. In other words, the reader cares very much about their fate, which only heightens the tension.
This feeling of suspense is expertly illustrated by Culbard. Throughout he has used various techniques, including the fuzzy POV of the invaders, to lend an off-kilter vibe to the story. There is a perpetual creepy air about the surroundings, which prevents the characters, as well as reader, from ever entirely relaxing. This ambiance of dread is more than justified by the creature’s appearance, an unsettling mix of the familiar and other-worldly. Culbard renders these beings full of menace, stalking through the countryside killing anyone who crosses their path. The reader knows that the final fight will not be an easy one.
Regardless, when the confrontation does occur it has a quite satisfactory, visceral thrill to it. The various characters work well as a team, having gradually grown acclimated to each other during the previous five issues. It is an endearing collection of personalities, to whom I was not eager to say good-bye. Luckily, I shall not need to do so. As reported Friday, Abnett has announced that a second series is in the works, which was not surprising. The final page of #6 suggests that there remains plenty of story still to tell.
Wild’s End has been an entertaining, exciting series about struggle, comradery and the meaning of heroism. Bravery is not easy, it is sometimes misguided, yet it remains a noble virtue. And it is on full display this week, as the first series of Wild’s End comes to a close.