Abnett & Culbard’s ‘Wild’s End’ #1 Is ‘Wind In The Willows’ With Laser Beams [Review]
In my experience, the best comics are the ones that answer questions that you didn't even know you were asking until you saw them, and Wild's End #1 does that pretty beautifully. The question: Wouldn't War of The Worlds have been better if it was about a sleepy English hamlet populated entirely by friendly anthropomorphic animals? The answer: Yes. Yes it would be.
As weird as that premise sounds, it's not that shocking that the book would turn out great. It's the product of writer Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy) and artist INJ Culbard (Brass Sun), and if there's one thing I've learned from previous experience with those creators, it's that they're more than capable of taking strange sci-fi premises and running with them to create something incredible -- which is exactly what they've done here.
Given that Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most popular movies in the world right now, it's kind of hard to look at Abnett's work without immediately comparing it to what he did with those characters. He was, after all, the cowriter (along with Andy Lanning) of the book that, in less than a decade, took Marvel's cosmic characters from a bunch of obscure also-rans to a star-spanning franchise with a team dynamic that made them an actual, honest-to-God household name. And when you go in knowing that, there's a level where Wild's End seems like the direct descendent of that book, in a truly hilarious way.
I mean, it's a sci-fi comic about an alien invasion, but the first thing you see isn't the aliens. Unless you count their initial appearance as a "shooting star," they don't even show up to mete out lazery death until the final page. What you do get right from the start, front and center, are the main characters, foxes, hounds and pigs, cheerful cartoon animals discussing their peaceful community and hinting at a tragic, bloody past for the newest arrival in town. It's only once the funny animals are established that you get the sci-fi twist.
In other words, it's an entire comic with nothing but Rocket Raccoons.
I mean, it's not, but still, that's a pretty funny setup. And it's a setup that INJ Culbard runs with on the art. I first became familiar with his work on 2000 AD's Brass Sun, where he produced some truly beautiful art. Wild's End is every bit the sci-fi title that Brass Sun was, but Culbard uses a style that's almost completely different, something that seems more like a storybook. A storybook that just happens to have these friendly animals being burned to death at the end, or trying to stay calm after seeing the horrors of war, but still. It's pretty incredible, and absolutely gorgeous.
Wild's End #1 hits shelves and ComiXology this Wednesday, September 10, and it's definitely something you should grab. Engaging characters, beautiful art, and a great premise from two people who know exactly how to make an entertaining comic.