Review - Neozoic #1: Trader's Gambit

Ever wonder what life would be like if the dinosaurs didn't go extinct? Would humans no longer be the top of the food chain? Would dinosaurs rule the world, similar to Planet of the Apes? Or would humans and dinosaurs live alongside one another in uneasy fear? In Neozoic #1: Trader's Gambit, it's the last scenario that Red 5 Comics is most interested in.

The title is written by Paul Ens, with art by Jae Korim, colors by Ivan Plascencia and letters by Troy Peteri.

In the 65 million years since a meteor never hit the Earth, humans have lived alongside another set of beings named "savros." They also like to be known as dinosaurs. In the walled city of Monanti, the best of the best serve in the Predator Defence League, but even that didn't prepare them for subversion by the telepathic, underground-dwelling race of Talpid. Enter Lilli Murko, something of a hero and a villain to all, but proficient enough to handle her own.

The story by Ens feels a little disjointed. It opens with the PDL guarding a construction site, then segues into Lilli going off on a mission. Avide is living in the king's castle and is something of a prodigy himself when it comes to dropping dangerous savros. The issue finishes with Lilli making something of a stark realization about some idiot kids and that's the first issue. It's not bad, just feels a little uneven.

It's likely that Lilly and Avide will cross paths down the road in something of a competition of talents. What the overarching thrust of the book is though remains to be seen. The world has been established (or re-established since this is the second volume) and the concept is solid. Lilli is about to get thrust into the middle of something fairly crazy though and that will do wonders for the feel of the story.

Korim's art is very strong. While the panel layouts are fairly standard, the action panels are very well-detailed and ensure nothing is lost on the reader. He mixes in a good variety of dinosaurs (savros) as well, helping to flesh out the world of Neozoic and make it feel expansive. There are some panels that are close-ups where it's a little difficult to make out what's going on, but by and large the art is a great fit for the story.

Neozoic #1: Trader's Gambit is off to an interesting start and the title will likely get even more interesting once it sort of settles down. It's a four-issue miniseries and nothing has really been established as an overall end point just yet, but the second issue will likely move the story forwards much more. In the meantime, enjoy watching young, hothead PDL members square off against one another and savros.

Neozoic #1: Trader's Gambit is in stores April 24.