Sunday, 11 September 2011
GRAPHIC NOVELS: XENOZOIC by MARK SCHULTZ (2011)
This review first appeared on Amazon UK.
If the names Burne Hogarth, Hal Foster, Frank Frazetta, and Al Williamson mean anything to you then order this book now. But there are other reasons.
Centuries after an environmental collapse, humanity has emerged from underground shelters to find a very changed world full of creatures from another time. Now tribal shamans try to maintain a balance between the needs of their people and the environment, a balance which many find restrictive. The setting of Xenozoic is the City in the Sea and its shaman is two-fisted mechanic-environmentalist Jack Tenrec who does things his way whether the ruling council like it or not. The story begins with the arrival of Hannah Dundee, ambassador of the Wassoon tribe of the Tidal Flats. Xenozoic is the story of Jack and Hannah.
The world Schultz creates is more complicated in every way than it first appears and writer/artist Schultz is in no hurry to give away its secrets. Indeed, by the end the book have the impression he's barely scratched the surface. Initially episodic, it develops into an ongoing and more assured narrative. Reminiscent of 1920's and 30's pulp fiction but with a modern sensibility, it's packed with action and skulduggery, monsters and beautiful women, and more.
And the artwork! In the tradition of the artists cited above but with a hint of Wally Wood and Berni Wrightson, the detailed black and white art is just gorgeous.
Great characters, a fascinating setting, good stories, wonderful art. Graphic stories just don't get much better than this.