Written by: Kurt Busiek
Art by: Ben Dewey
Published by: Image Comics
“Tooth & Claw #1” had a chance to be the first new Image book this week to meet my expectations and with its over-sized debut I initially thought that it just might. But as the pages dragged on, and I mean dragged on, I found myself lacking a reason to care about the story being told or the characters involved. Part of the problem is that fantasy series can be a little overburdened with exposition at times, and while we aren’t steeped in background information, we aren’t given much to work with other than the basics of what can be inferred through the dialogue and narration. I’m not sure this debut would have been stronger if it was even denser but I didn’t find something to latch onto with this work.
There’s something to be said about Ben Dewey’s art almost coming to the rescue of this comic. After reading this comic I thought many of the same things about it that I did about “The Humans #1”, which also debuted from Image Comics this week. Dewey’s art is impressive and reaches a quality that suggests we should look forward to seeing more from him in the future. He adds a life and vividness to the characters that the script simply doesn’t, making bland animal people a bit more colorful.
Kurt Busiek is known for his dense plots and deep immersion into the realm he is writing about, but I can’t help but wonder if “Tooth & Claw #1” wasn’t too slow moving to really achieve its vision. Busiek is a name that readers will know and trust however, so I don’t doubt that this book will be given the sales support it needs to get its legs under it. And the fantastic artwork from Ben Dewey will probably cement a lot of readers into giving this series a try.
When a new series comes along I find myself, as I’m sure many of you do as well, weighing the benefits of this new series compared to the ones I’m already invested in. Does it offer something that I can’t get elsewhere? That’s the main question for me that decides whether something stays and I’m not sure yet whether “Tooth & Claw #1” answered that question satisfactorily. The final pages tease a conflict that could interest me, but so much of this issue dedicated itself to half-formed ideas and unsympathetic characters.
While “Tooth & Claw #1” lacks in the character department, it does have an impressive vision with the scope and scale of the world Busiek and Dewey have created. Dewey’s art was splendid throughout this installment and has ensured that I will be back next month to see where the series goes. Busiek has written some brilliant and beautiful comics in his time and I hope that Tooth & Claw becomes one of them. I’m just not ready to drink the Kool-Aid on this one just yet.
“Tooth & Claw #1” earns 7.3/10