Review - Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1 (@BOOMStudios)

"Bad dream. Go back to sleep."

Philip K. Dick asked if androids dream of electric sheep, but he didn't ask if sheep dream of androids. Or aliens. It's not often that one has to contend with a dog rallying forces against an alien invasion, but it's prime matter for Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1 from BOOM! Studios. The issue is written by Dan Abnett, illustrated and lettered by I.N.J. Culbard.

As Clive, Susan, Fawkes and the other survivors of the alien invasion of Lower Crowchurch try to cope with what just happened to their small town, the military arrives in an attempt to cover up the “incident.” Town residents are immediately detained, questioned, and treated with suspicion. Are they alien spies, collaborators, sympathizers? Clive and the rest will need to escape imprisonment if they’re to get the word out and warn the rest of the world in case the aliens return.

There's a lot going on in Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1, but fortunately Abnett gives readers just as much to grab onto. He uses an interesting narrative approach in that the events are being viewed through the prism of two writers themselves, offering something of a meta-experience. There's some witty back and forth between the two aforementioned writers that gradually establishes a tension between the two--a tension that relies on their different approaches to their craft. Abnett also offers two parallel storylines as well, jumping back and forth between the two in a way that ensures each one gets the proper amount of attention. Even though there is some back and forth, Abnett's pacing is very even, offering a tale that moves along well.

Rendering animals as people is Culbard, who does a fantastic job. His characters feel alive and emotional, even if the prevailing emotion seems to be a constant sense of dread at the situations they find themselves in. Each character is defined very cleanly, as Culbard uses thin, black lines as points of emphasis and accent in contrast to the idyllic background settings. It's pretty amazing how lifelike Culbard makes his characters feel, with simple actions such as taking a sip of water or adjusting glasses adding plenty of personality to every player. And the simple panel layout affords many side-by-side comparisons when it comes to characters and action.

The first foray at Wild's End was a fascinating tale that offered plenty of animals in situations that required some level of civilized discourse--Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1 continues that sentiment. The stakes feel decidedly higher this time around and more animals are getting involved. Abnett's script blends parts of alien science-fiction with a country under the eyes of a militaristic regime, throwing a big wrench into the mix with all the characters being animals. Culbard's illustrations appear bright and airy, but that look belies something much more sinister that could threaten the lives of everyone involved. Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1 is a great start to a new mini-series that will give readers plenty of interesting plot points to follow.

Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1 is available now.