Underrated: Voracious: Appetite For Destruction

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Voracious: Feeding Time.

Markisan Naso, Jason Muhr and Andrei Tabucaru have a new comic coming out in 2021, By The Horns. Because of the fact that these three have created one of my all time favourite series, I’m going to revisit the three volumes over the next couple of months. You can find the first column on Diners, Dinosaurs & Dives here, and the second on Feeding Time here.

Published by Action Lab, Voracious: Appetite for Destruction is written by Markisan Naso and drawn and lettered by Jason Muhr, with the co-creators being joined by colourist Andrei Tabucaru. The series can usually grab your attention with the shortest of descriptions: “time travelling chef makes dinosaur sandwiches.”

It sounds awesome, right? Well, that’s because it is. But there’s a lot more to the series, including dinosaur cops, giant monsters and a strangely relatable dilemma throughout the series.

The first trade introduced the concept of time travel and dinosaur hunting, the second volume introduced us to dinosaur cops and an entirely new world as we learn that our hero wasn’t time travelling but hopping dimensions. The third brings everything together as we add a giant flying monster into the mix as the story hurtles to a remarkable conclusion.

Again, it sounds like it shouldn’t work as a story progression, but the comic never feels as though it’s out of hand; Markisan Naso has an excellent grasp on pacing and weaving the tale through some genuinely heart warming and wrenching scenes that continuously serve to keep the more science fiction aspects of the story feeling as though they’re perfectly natural occurrences.

Whereas the last trade effectively established the time travelling dimension hopping chef Nate as the villain in the story, Naso never quite lets you dislike the character; his action were and remain entirely sympathetic, and his desire to do the right thing even as he acknowledges his mistakes echoes across the page. Of course, the right thing in this case is stopping a significantly enlarged dinosaur as it rampages through Nate’s hometown of Black Fossil, a small desert town with a single cop who just happens to hold a massive dislike for our hero. Familial ties are a massive part of the entire story, but especially volume three as the shit hits the fan in ever increasing ways you see certain characters’ bonds deepen as they try not to fall apart.

I’ve yet to mention the artwork; Jason Muhr and Andrei Tabucaru step up their game from the last volume, and there are some great silent panels as Naso literally lets the pictures tell a thousand words in conversation and character development. Although the high octane scenes are brilliant, it’s the subtle moments when the art shines brightest; the gradual fading of Gus’ memories, the pastel infused flashbacks and those previously mentioned silent conversations help elevate this volume into must read territory.

Voracious is one of the few series where I own both the floppy issues and the trades as, like I said in the last two columns:

“I put my money where my mouth is because Voracious is a wonderful breath of fresh air in an industry that has been choking on relaunches and rehashes; the five issues that make up Feeding Time are some of the highest scored comics that I have reviewed for Graphic Policy.

If you’re tired of reading about superheroes fighting each other and you want a story to take you across the emotional spectrum without the use of glowing rings then you need look no further. While the comic is about a time traveling, dinosaur hunting chef, it’s also a powerful look into what makes us who we are and how. It’s a story about mistakes and loss, and most importantly coping with those things.

If you want more Voracious, then you can check out the episode of GP Radio where we talked all about the dinosaur sandwiches with both Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr. The new book, by the same team, will be launching February 28th.

Unless the comics industry ceases to exist this week, Underrated will return next week.