Like I said previously, last weekend I got to go on holiday and, due to circumstances beyond my control (well, kind of, I could have kept my son up I guess), I was given the gift of time to read some trades which I hadn't yet gotten around to. The first evening was taken up by the Mark Millar superhero book; Huck.
On night two, I decided I'd have a read of The Autumnlands Volume 2: Woodland Creatures by Kurt Busiek and Ben Dewey. This was another book which I had been given the opportunity to review when it had initially been released. Now, as full disclosure, I hadn't originally enjoyed this comic but, when convinced to give it a second try (because it's Kurt Busiek), I did find Tooth and Claw (It's original title) to be much better than I had first thought and decided to give that first trade a try.
Well, volume 1 was read and thoroughly enjoyed and so when volume 2 was released, I snapped it up (which was helped as Comixology had it selling for a discounted price), but had yet to read through it, until now.
The Autumnlands volume 2 follows on from the first trade with Learoyd and Dustain recovering after their battle to defend the (former) floating city's inhabitants from Seven Scars and his Bison tribe. No lost and alone in the wilderness, the two set off for survival and civilisation when Learoyd has an encounter with a being unlike anything he's so far seen in the Autumnlands. This encounter leads the great Champion and his dog-wizard companion deep into the Woodlands and up a nearby mountain as he attempts to gain more answers as to how he got here and why.
Much like the first volume, however, this was a bit of a struggle to get into initially. That said, unlike the first volume, this had more to do with a lack of a recap page being included in Volume 2, meaning finding the memories in my rather full mind of the previous read. This, as is usually the case with a non-recap page book, made it a bit of a slow start to get into.
Of course, as I read and the first book came flooding back to me, I really got more and more engrossed into this story, which also saw the duo attempt to help a sheep's village and pick up a new companion in the form of a Goat called Albert as they made their way up the mountain. I have to admit that, once the comic's pace picks up, the entire story begins to feel incredibly mythic.
The thing I enjoy most though are the characters and their interactions as, free from the more political characters of Volume 1, Learoyd and Dunstain really come across better as the former shows his hidden depths beneath his rather crude first impression and the latter feels a lot more confident here with both his skills and his overall demeanour. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the rendition of the Sheep village, showing a simpler, more comprehendible aspect of the this world while Albert, although a little annoying in places, I thought helped give the story some levity with his arrogant and humorous nature.
Meanwhile, I do love the art, which really goes with the mythic quality of the overall book and it has some good colours to help bring it across really well (which you come to expect when it's Jordie Bellaire.) What's really great about the art in this book though are the truly mesmerizing landscape scenes at the start of each issues which make me think of Oil Paintings or the art you may see in ancient texts (although the actual text which goes with them feels a little long.)
In truth, this book is a seriously terrific book, but not just for the things I've mentioned above. I've always considered that there's some unknown quantity on every book which can cause you to love the worst made or hate one of the highest quality. With Autumnland, it is the better of those two options as I find this book incredibly epic and, despite having to have worked to remember what was going on, the pay off was worth the effort.
I could have picked a few other things to read in my precious free time, but I'm glad I chose this. I look forward to volume 3!