Review: By The Horns: Dark Earth #1

By The Horns: Dark Earth

By The Horns: Dark Earth #1 takes place six months after the hellacious battle in the sky with the evil sorceress, Feng Po. Elodie and Sajen are back in Wayfarer, reluctantly settling into their new lives as… farmers?! But their days spent tilling the land in overalls proves short-lived when a mysterious blight devastates the continent of Solothus and forces them to take up a new quest.

It’s always an exciting day when I get a copy of a book by Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr (writer and artist/letter respectively) in my inbox. The new chapter to the second arc of By The Horns is every bit as awesome as the previous arc; my average score per issue for that series would have been at least a 9.5, but I’m not sure exactly what because I haven’t gone back to check – suffice it to say that the trade, which is out now, is one of the best reads you’ll have this summer.

There’s going to be very minor spoilers for this issue after this paragraph, so the condensed version of the review is (once again): go buy this book, add the rest to your pull list, and then buy the first volume.

Picking up the story six months after the conclusion on the previous arc, The Wind Rises, we find that monster hunter and all around bad ass Elodie has hung up her sword and picked up the instruments of a farmer as she tries to adjust to life without an enemy to fight.

Of course, things rarely go to plan, and it isn’t long before Elodie drops the plow and has to take up the sword again; now while this is technically a minor spoiler, realistically you can’t expect anything less given that there’s a new arc beginning for the series. What I enjoyed more about the transition from farmer to warrior again was in how Naso pulls it off. There’s no real sudden switch, no immediate threat that shows up, but a slow build to the realization that she needs to fight for Solothus once again. I enjoyed the way Naso opens the story, and while it’s certainly a slower opening than the second and third arcs of his previous series Voracious, I think it actually works a lot more effectively in hooking you into the story.

It should come as no surprise to those who have followed his work, but Jason Muhr’s art has been trending upward in terms of quality; he’s consistently on, and I genuinely don’t remember a time where I haven’t been able to read the story purely from his visuals. Long time collaborator Andrei Tabacaru isn’t providing the colours this time, instead colourist Steve Cannon is fleshing out the pages of By The Horns: Dark Earth; in terms of quality and consistency, you’ll have a hard time noticing based on this issue, but I’m curious what Cannon will bring to the following issues.

Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr are probably my favorite writer/artist combination in comics, and at this point they’ve earned my trust when it comes to whatever new series they’re putting out, and this comic just reinforces that trust. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not reading By The Horns. The next issue of By The Horns: Dark Earth will come out in July – and while I’ve already got it on my desktop, I still can’t wait to get my hands on the physical copy.

Story: Markisan Naso Art/Lettering: Jason Muhr Colors: Steve Cannon
Story: 9.4 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review. Alex also purchased a physical copy of all comics/trades referenced within the review.

Purchase: Scout ComicsZeus Comics