Underrated: Autumnlands: Woodland Creatures

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:  Autumnlands: Woodland Creatures

A few weeks ago I wrote about the first volume of The Autumnlands  in this column (which you can find in a horribly typo filled post here because apparently I forgot to spell check). I was quite taken with the book, and remarkably surprised that I’d never come across the story before, and as I’m sure you’ve figured out, I picked up the second trade. This time for full price.

The second trade, Woodland Creatures picks up, with the aftermath of the bridge battle sending Dusty and Learoyd left abandoned on the ground as the rest of the citizens are rehomed.

Whereas the first volume touched on the divide of rich and poor in a class-based society, the second really drives home the differences between the magic users and the rest of the woodland creatures, culminating in a shocking and remarkably relevant commentary on the imposition of one’s will over another.

Slavery, class divide, religion, environmental damage and technological abuses are all touched upon here in a way that doesn’t come off as Kurt Busiek standing on a soapbox, but rather encouraging us to think about the world around us. Maybe something that seems impossible has a rather obvious solution when approached from a different angle.

If you’re looking for a fun fantasy story, then you will find what you’re looking for with the second volume in the Autumnlands saga. Without question, this is a top notch comic book. But like any great science fiction or fantasy series, the messages barely beneath the surface are more powerful and relevant for their seemingly innocuous delivery and framing within the confines of the story.

As with all great works of fiction, Woodland Creatures asks exactly as much of the reader as it needs to in order to encourage you become a better person. Yup. But as deeply as I have read into this book, and possibly far deeper than I should have, you don’t need to do that. This is a book that can be enjoyed solely as a great story.

Image has a vast library of great books, and while we’re still waiting on the third volume of the series, this book is worth reading now. Yes, there’s a set up for the following issue, and yes there are unanswered questions, but nothing that will haunt you long into the night (though the wait for the next chapter  will suck).

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.