Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Kris Anka
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Inker: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
If you read the first issue of The White Trees, then you’ll already know the premise: three legendary warriors embark on a dangerous mission to rescue their children from a rival nation. Taking place in the high fantasy land of Blacksand, this first issue is heavy on character, exploring the dynamics of our three leads and allowing us to really invest in their plight. With the set-up and introductions out of the way, this second (and allegedly final) issue amps up the action and drives our heroes toward their inevitable end.
This conclusion trades much of the first issue’s, uh … carnal activities for hyper-kinetic and bloody ultra-violence. Those of you hoping for more elf-dong may be disappointed, but the language and gore more than make up for it. The fight scenes in particular are brutal, yet beautifully rendered by artists Kris Anka and Matt Wilson. The epic scale of Blacksand’s beautiful landscapes, juxtaposed with the smaller, intimate character moments is equally impressive. This is career-defining work from two of comic’s most prolific artists.
The art alone is worth the $4.99 price tag, but the script by Chip Zdarsky is just as engaging. This story takes familiar themes (parenthood, loss, and regret) and applies them to a grand “Game of Thrones” style epic that ends far too soon and in possibly the only way it could. Certain themes may seem a bit heavy-handed, particularly in a monologue delivered by our lead character Lord Krylos, but the emotional hook is effective nonetheless.
Zdarsky’s trademark voice was all-but absent in the previous issue, but here it’s very distinct and his range as a writer is on full-display. The dialogue is full of humor and heartbreak, as is the story itself. The genius lettering by Aditya Bidikar adds just enough personality to Zdarsky’s words, while keeping within the style of this dark and broody tale. I only hope this whole team returns to the world of Blacksand one day soon.