Past and future collide in The Autumnlands Volume 1: Tooth and Claw, an anthropomorphic high-fantasy epic from New York Times best-selling writer Kurt Busiek and rising art star Ben Dewey.

Opening in the floating wicker city of Keneil, “westernmost of the Seventeen Cities Above the Plain”, and home to protagonist Dunstan, we’re introduced to the cast of skunks, tortoises, bears, snakes, birds and more populating this world, dressed in fine period cloaks, and all of more or less equal size. Dunstan, a young bull terrier known as Dusty to his friends, follows his father on the latter's trade-master duties, learning more about the world he inhabits as the reader does.

It soon becomes apparent that the magic which governs this land is fading, and that the folk living in the cities consider themselves superior to the ground-dwelling bison who provide them with food in return for meagre helpings of healing magic. As wizards conspire to summon forth a Great Champion of the past to save them from ruin, Dusty’s life changes forever.

Busiek, best known as the creator of his own multiple-award winning series Astro City, and as a prolific writer of superhero comics, has been waiting ten years to unleash this new series, a gestation period that is reflected in the extraordinarily detailed world building that slowly unfolds.

Portland, OR-based Dewey is less known, though The Autumnlands will undoubtedly elevate him to the top rank of comic artists. His most notable previous works include the Eisner Award-nominated I Was The Cat with Paul Tobin, and his "Tragedy Series" webcomic which was recently collected as The Complete Collection of The Tragedy Series: Secret Lobster Claws and Other Misfortunes. Both share a love of anthropomorphic animal characters, rendered in realistic form with cleverly cartoonish expressions where appropriate.

It's rare to find an artist equally at home with characterization and incredibly dynamic magic sequences, but Dewey’s eye is faultless, designing intricate cityscapes, rugged scenic landscapes, and peppering every scene with beautifully emotive characters.

What really sells this book is the coloring work of the award winning Jordie Bellaire. The coloring of magic in particular is eye-popping, oscillating between realistic and fantastic palettes, as she draws the very best from Dewey’s linework. Even Comicraft’s lettering takes the book further into high-fantasy territory, with lower case dialogue and borderless speech balloons helping create an immersive experience.

The Autumnlands Volume 1: Tooth and Claw (9781632152770) is published on July 7th from Image Comics.

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