Underrated: Autumn Lands: Tooth And Claw

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:  Autumn Lands: Tooth And Claw

In another case of “Alex bought something for Underrated without knowing anything about it beforehand,” we have The Autumn Lands: Tooth And Claw by Kurt Busiek, Benjamin Dewey, Jordie Bellaire and John Roshell of Comicraft. I had never heard of this series before spotting it at my LCS last week as I restocked the trade shelves (I’m not a nice person, they pay me to do it). Then this week a used copy came in, and I couldn’t turn down a half priced trade.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that $5 was an utter steal for this book. Within four pages I had become absorbed into this wonderfull world of anthromorphic animals, magic and class based society.

Autumnlands is published by Image, with the first volume being released in 2015 that collects the six issues released from November 2014 to June 2015. There was a second volume released in 2017 that collects the eight issues released from November 2015 to January 2017. As a person who only recently discovered the series, I can imagine that the less than frequent release date didn’t help garner Autumnlands much buzz – but I could easily be wrong here as it is entirely possible I just missed it. Like I missed the comics.

Magic is failing in the world, and a group of sky-city dwelling wizards want to bring back the Great Champion so that he can show them how to return the world’s magic. Only… the wizards didn’t bring back a savior, they snagged themselves a soldier. An effective soldier, but a soldier nonetheless. From anther world, or time, or dimension. Into this new world, then, the soldier finds himself embroiled in the politics of a city (or he would if he seemed to care about such things), and it’s through the uses of the types of animals that we can see a class-based commentary begin to form.

Although this is more a rule of thumb than specifically stated, meat eaters, generally, seem to be at the top of the hierarchy, while herbivors are (quite literally) at the ground level. There are exceptions to this, including a wizarding giraffe, however. But put the politics and commentary aside, and you still have a solid fantasy story about a hero who finds himself alone in a strange world who must somehow protect and save those who need him. Busiek delivers on multiple levels with this book, and it’s easy to see why there’s a cover quote telling us it’s his best work in some time.

Likewise, there’s also a cver quote extolling Benjamin Dewey’s art work, and rightly so, as he and colourist Jordie Bellaire deliver the second punch with their all out visual assualt. Rarely have I been so surprised by a book’s visual impact as I was when reading this.

Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw is fatastic, and I’d have been supremely happy with this at twice the price – I’m pretty sure my LCS has volume two (or they did when I put it on the shelf), so I’ll be picking that up this weekend, too. Volume one is going to set you backaroud $10 new, which is an astounding deal for six issues, let alone six issues of this quality. Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw is a really good read, phenomenl, even.

But as with most books covered in this column, it’s a book I don’t see getting the love it deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated. Go read it now. You won’t regret it.

Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.