Animosity #4, The Walled City — graphic novel review by Roz Gibson

by Patch O'Furr

Welcome to Roz Gibson, furry artist and animator in Southern California. Roz was guest of honor at Confurence and created the Jack Salem comic character that first appeared in Rowrbrazzle in 1987. Roz is a community access guest and contents are hers. See Roz’s tag for more reviews.

Animosity #4, The Walled City (graphic novel compilation of issues 14-18)
Written by Marguerite Bennet, art by Rafael De Latorre, Ornella Savarese and Elton Thomas.
Published by Aftershock Comics

The  scenario of animals suddenly developing sentience has been used recently in at least two comics (Squarriors and Animosity) and two novels (The Awareness and the Mort(e) series). Animosity  has been ongoing for several years, chronicling the journey of young human teenager Jesse, her devoted bloodhound ‘father’ Sandor, and their group of companions, including a Pallas cat, goats, a bison, a ring-tailed lemur and Kyle, an adult human who may or may not have Jesse’s best interests at heart. 

The group is traveling from New York City to San Francisco, where Jesse can hopefully find her half-brother. Sandor is eager to make the trip as quickly as possible, since he’s old and is afraid he’ll die before getting Jesse to safety. The landscape is typically post-apocalyptic, and they encounter various obstacles and allies along the way. While this is volume 4, you don’t necessarily need to be familiar with the other chapters to pick it up, since it does contain a complete story arc and there’s a helpful synopsis of ‘what has gone before’ at the beginning of the book.

During their journey Jesse and Sandor encounter groups where animals are dominating humans, animal-only enclaves, and, in this volume, a place where humans still own animals. At the end of the previous volume, Kyle has kidnapped Jesse, ostensibly to ‘save’ her from Sandor, whom he does not trust. Kyle has heard of a human-only enclave called the Walled City in the south, where he thinks Jesse will be safe. Now, in volume 4, when they arrive at the Walled City, and find the inhabitants are eager to take in any female of childbearing age—and not so interested in taking single adult men. Too bad for Kyle.

The rest of the story has Jesse trying to survive in a girl’s boarding school from hell, run by the fanatical ‘Headmistress,’ while Sandor and the rest of the group try to track her down.  In the Walled City they still keep pigs captive for meat, as well as enslaving (literally, with chains) other animals for labor. They are very big with “Humans are the superior species” philosophy, which doesn’t sit well with Jesse.

One thing to note about Animosity’s background, is that everything became sentient, including fish, insects and krill. Which makes life tough for obligate carnivores.  The problem of food shortages is covered more extensively in a side-series: Animosity: Evolution.  In the main comic it’s glossed over a bit, with the carnivore characters shown eating animals that have already been killed. But by and large the problem of carnivore diet is not dealt with.

The artwork is traditional American comic book style, inked with mostly flat colors. The artists are better at drawing the human characters than animal, but the animals are at least recognizable. The anatomy is a bit wonky, but I’ve seen plenty worse. And with the clean inks and flat colors, you can actually tell what’s going on in each panel.

Of the 4 works with animals suddenly getting intelligent, the Mort(e) series of novels is by far the best (if a rather grim read). But Animosity is a good second. Recommended for people looking for a serious story with talking animals that are not anthropomorphic.

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