Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Guest Review - The Classics - Xenozoic Tales #1

   Here with a guest review of one of my favorite Independent titles is David Wright, with a look at Xenozoic Tales.

   I love dinosaurs so when I saw the cover of Xenozoic Tales #1 on the comic shelf back in 1987, I immediately wanted to peer inside. Once I did I was sold again by the artwork by Mark Schultz. The art reminded me of something like Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood, and some of the early EC artist, and the story looked like a SF adventure tale.

   The inside the cover gives a brief history of how the world has changed. Some sort of global catastrophe has occurred. By 2020 A.D. the earth boiled and billions died while some of the surviving humans went deep underground. Four hundred and fifty years later mankind has returned to the surface to a world radically changed, and that includes the addition of dinosaurs and weird fauna, but the existing technology is stuck in the 20th century.

   The first issue is broken up into three separate stories. In the first one, "An Archipelago of Stone," we are thrown into this world of wonders as a ship is seen on the horizon approaching the city. News of the vessel travels fast by word of mouth and we see some criminals making plans in a tavern. They have a murderous past and plan to ambush the ship's couriers. The barkeeper overhears their plans and sends a message to "Cadillac" Jack Tenrec, a sort of shade tree mechanic, but also trusted leader and hero of the series. 

   Aboard the ship's passengers is Hanna Dundee, an ambassador and scientist from the land known as the Wasson. She is the second major character in the Xenozoic cast. The first story sets up the first meeting between Jack and Hanna, while throwing in the conflict to stop the criminals. Both Jack and Hanna are attracted and repelled to each other, and through them we discover more about this new world of the Xenozoic. 

   The second story is concerned with a mosasaur, a giant sea creature that has been destroying some of the shipping boats and eating cargo and crew members. We are introduced to Governor Nock, and another scientist, Remfro Rynchus. He is an expert on pteranodons, also known locally as zekes.  Together they try to solve the problem of the mosasaur attacks.  

   The third story is about "Cadillac" Tenrec who has been asked to escort a group of people to the Calhoon mines in the interior, but there are others that tag along for reasons unknown to him. He explains to them that the escorts will go by his rules, and they are not to shoot anything unless attacked. Naturally there's a game hunter among the group that is out for profit. We see in this story that Tenrec is referred to as a shaman, a preserver of the natural order of things, and not to be trifled with. As one character says, in the city Jack follows their rules, but outside the city, they go by his rules.  

   If you enjoy adventure comics and great art of the highest caliber, which actually got better and better as the series continued, you really ought to seek this book out. It's an incredible series, and highly recommended. 

Grade A+



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