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This is the first issue of a four part mini-series from small indie publisher Devil’s Due Entertainment, writer Ash Maczko, and artist Ashley Witter.  The basic premise of the story is that something has happened to the humans of this world, leaving the smaller woodland creatures completely in control.  They’ve formed factions and fight hard to protect their food and territory from opposing tribes of similar animals.  Sounds like the premise for a fun, kid-friendly adventure story, right?  Well… not exactly…

The first issue of Squarriors starts in a bar in the mid-eighties, where we’re treated to a very detailed (the flying teeth look pretty real) fight scene between two humans.  We get the impression that human civilization has already started to crumble at this point, since the TV news report in the background mentions relief stations, and the barkeep tells patrons that currency is no longer good, he’ll only trade or barter with them.  Following the conclusion of the fight, the setting jumps about a decade into the future, where nature has taken back her territory.  The only societies that exist here are completely composed of animals, who have somehow become far more intelligent, making and using tools, clothing themselves, and talking to one another in a language of more than just squeaks and grunts.  It’s never made explicitly clear how things got to this point, but it’s still early in the series.  However, if the cover alone didn’t give you enough warning, then let me do so now, this world is brutal.

I want to discuss the art here first.  Ashley Witter’s drawings are phenomenal.  The amount of detail crammed into each panel is well beyond what you’ll find in a typical comic, and it really pulls you in.  It makes me wonder how much time she spent staring at squirrels, mice, foxes, and other animals to be able to place such expressions of pain and fear on their faces.  The other part of what makes the art stand out here is how visceral it tends to be.  You figure out very early on just how raw and unyielding this story will get.

Maczko’s writing is structurally fine, but the dialogue leaves a little to be desired in some places.  It can occasionally be difficult to distinguish a clear voice between the characters.  Aside from that minor hiccup, I am very much enjoying the main narrative.  I still have a ton of questions, but it’s early enough to hope those will get answered throughout the rest of the story.  This is one that I’ll certainly be following to the end.

Now, down to some more official business.  It occurs to me that assigning an arbitrary amount of thumbs up could get a little muddy, so I’m going to use a slightly simpler scale for ratings.  The order will go…

Dreadful———————————————————-Decent———————————AMAZING!
Kill it before it breeds!—–This both sucks and blows—–Meh…—–I can dig it—–Must have moar!!!

Alright now that that’s out of the way…

The Verdict for Squarriors #1:
Must have moar!!!

Upcoming reviews, in no particular order:
East of West, Volume 2: We Are All One TPB
Halo: Broken Circle (Novel)
Daredevil – Netflix Series
Squarriors #2

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