Review - Beastlands #1 (@CurtisWriterC)

"I think we're close! We can do this!"

Fantasy stories have a way of offering a glimpse at a world that's generally pretty tough for everyone involved. Things could be easier with the help of a trusted companion, such as the Keepers in Beastlands #1. The book is written by Curtis Clow and illustrated by Jo Mi-Gyeong.

Mac serves as the narrative conduit for the story as Clow channels the Beastlands universe through his quest for his father. Essentially, the kingdom is rife with individuals and their Keepers which is very akin to the concept of pets (or even Daemons in the His Dark Materials trilogy). Mac's quest is something of an unknown, but that doesn't prevent Clow from presenting him as extremely focused on discovering whatever secret his father was hiding and that's the true thrust of the issue and presumably series. Clow does a great job of setting things up otherwise as well, with an interesting twist being the King's recent souring on the concept of Keepers in general. There are elements of high-fantasy on display that Clow really leans into.

Mi-Gyeong provides some very lush imagery that's quite beautiful in its presentation. All of the characters sport a look that's sufficiently medieval in nature and helps reinforce the high-fantasy feel, emphasizing characters in various degrees of armor and weaponry. Mac's Keeper Renzo seems to resemble a cross between a wolf and a tiger; Mi-Gyeong's decision to ground the visual appearance of the Keepers in real-world animals is helpful for making it easier to understand their relevance to the characters. Mi-Gyeong also applied a very methodic storytelling presentation via the panel layout, cleanly presenting panels stacked top to bottom that makes it easy to follow along. The colors are fairly vibrant as well, effectively capturing the green foliage of the forest and the darkness of a cave.

Beastlands #1 is a relatively simple first issue that seeks to complicate things as the series progresses. Mac's quest to learn about his father will put him directly in the path of the King and his recent decrees. Clow's script is fairly fast-paced and abetted by rapid-fire dialogue amongst the characters. Mi-Gyeong's artwork takes a soft approach and really helps to draw the reader into the world. Beastlands #1 scratches a fantasy itch and could offer a fascinating take on the strength of the bonds between humans and their pets.

Beastlands #1 is primed to launch via Kickstarter on March 19.