Marguerite Bennett, Rafael de Latorre & Juan Doe’s Animosity Vol. 1 Shows a World Where the Fauna Bites Back

Comics Reviews Marguerite Bennett
Marguerite Bennett, Rafael de Latorre & Juan Doe’s Animosity Vol. 1 Shows a World Where the Fauna Bites Back

Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artists: Rafael de Latorre, Juan Doe
Colorist: Rob Schwager
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Release Date: March 1, 2017

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Animosity imagines a world where animals not only gain human-level intelligence and the ability to speak, but lash out in their new angry awareness. Long suffering at the hands of abusive and indifferent humans, many critters enact vengeance. Domestic pets protect their humans from the more violent beasts. Sandor, an aging, ill bloodhound, goes out into this world in an attempt to deliver his beloved girl, Jesse, to her older brother, a journey that takes the pair clear across the country from New York to San Francisco. It feels like a play on True Grit, but with a koala wielding revolvers.

Early on, writer Marguerite Bennett confronts the fact that the basic story structure follows paths well trod by zombie stories. But as Sandor explains to Jesse’s father, this isn’t the kind of situation where a survivor can avoid interaction and keep their head down: with both humans and self-aware animals posing a threat, every geography from urban to rural holds untold danger. By intentionally setting Animosity apart from zombie stories, in which animals rarely pose a threat, Bennett neatly steps out from the shadow cast by The Walking Dead.

Animosity Vol. 1 Interior Art by Rafael de Latorre & Rob Schwager

What makes this comic so remarkable is that it refuses to abandon Jesse’s childhood the moment danger starts, using humor and kindness to lighten a heavy story. Too many dystopian tales, even those about children, fall so quickly into darkness and adult moral quandaries that it’s impossible to retain any sense of joy or wonder. But Jesse, a preteen alone in the world aside from her protector pooch, is still kind and helpful, and she shares her food and love easily. The book leans heavily on nostalgia, which lends it an even greater air of sweetness in the face of doom. Do not confuse sweetness with innocence or naiveté, though—the book is still violent and intentional with its ethical quagmires. Bennett throws in explicit references to Watership Down, Animal Farm and Planet of the Apes, but there’s also a healthy dose of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Redwall even Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey on these pages. For some readers, this will be more than enough to keep them happy and engaged as Jesse and Sandor’s adventure begins.

Animosity Vol. 1 Interior Art by Rafael de Latorre & Rob Schwager

Artist Rafael de Latorre is a real asset here, as is colorist Rob Schwager. Animosity has clean lines and soft lighting, so even panels depicting a hamster eating her own young while becoming aware of her cannibalism don’t feel nearly as revolting as they could. Particularly when contrasted with Juan Doe’s art for one-shot issue Animosity: The Rise, which traces the journey of Jesse’s older brother and a veteran, de Latorre’s art is bathed in the same sense of inherent kindness as Bennett’s writing. Doe, who also illustrated Brian Azzarello’s American Monster for AfterShock, has a much sharper and more stylized method, and Schwager uses a washed-out palette that feels sickly green and heavy on the page.

Animosity Vol. 1 Interior Art by Juan Doe

Fans of Y the Last Man, We3 and Beasts of Burden should consider picking up this collected volume, which includes The Rise along with the first four issues. Bennett’s wry, black humor and keen observational skills have already turned Animosity into a good allegory for real-world fears. If her work on titles like DC’s Bombshells is anything to go by, Animosity will only get better as she and de Latorre have more time to build this new world.

Animosity Vol. 1 Interior Art by Rafael de Latorre & Rob Schwager

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