Comic Review - Iron: Or, the War After

Every once in a while a comic book comes along that knocks your socks off. The kind of book that speaks volumes even through its distinct lack of dialogue. Other times, creators come along that force their way onto your "up and comers list" through their obvious talent and distinctive style. Iron: Or, The War After ticks both of these boxes. Not only is it a beautifully told story but it is a beautiful piece of art which proves that, at present, Archaia can do no wrong.

"It is the aftermath of a long war, in a world of constant winter. An intelligence spy from the Resistance—the rabbit, Hardin—steals secret information from a military base of the Regime. His actions set off a chain of events that reverberates through the ranks of both sides, touching everyone from Pavel the crow to Giles the goat, from the highest-ranking officials to the smallest orphaned child. When the snow finally settles, who will be the true patriot and who the true traitor?

In this spellbinding, beautifully illustrated anthropomorphic tale, the actions of a spy set off a chain reaction that affects both sides of the struggle, making each animal question their loyalty to their side."

Sadly, the copy of this book that was supplied for review was digital so comment cannot be passed on the physical features of the bound and finished work. Suffice it to say that based upon Archaia's previous outings, this will undoubtedly be another jewel in the crown of the King's of quality printing. Their binding work puts all other publishers to shame in delivering books that are both beautiful inside and out. That said, this statement is made purely on speculation. Iron is the kind of book that deserves, if not demands such dedication to detail and quality. The delicate water-coloured art deserves a better quality of paper stock while the whole package, in its crimson skin, deserves a sturdy, well bound form to compliment the quality of work within and Archaia is the company to deliver.

From the very first page, Shane-Michael Vidaurri creates a scene that is every bit as intriguing as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The use of anthropomorphic characters makes you guess and second guess yourself at every turn and manages to use preconceived notions of good and bad into unexpected plot twists at the hands of the reader themselves. Questions are raised as to whether the cute Mr Hardin is truly so cute and is Captain Engel as blood thirsty as his exterior makes him appear. While these preconceived notions of the cute bunny vs the scary tiger come directly from the reader, it is artist and writer SM Vidaurri that pulls the strings. In limiting the amount of dialogue and number of panels, he allows the readers mind to wander. Unlike with many other comics where wordless panels are skimmed, Vidaurri's art is so beautiful, and so delicate, that even silent panels warrant closer inspection. In Iron, Vidaurri has shown the kind of creative restraint that many seasoned veterans seem to overlook, sometimes less truly is more. So much of this story is told visually, almost cinematically, without using dialogue as a crutch. 

Iron: Or, the War After is an incredibly beautiful outing from a creator who has me excited for the comic book industry. Talent such as this doesn't come along often so when it does, it is great to see a professional publisher that notices it too. Iron is an incredibly beautiful and thoroughly spellbinding book.

Included in Iron are a number of fantastic pin-ups from David Petersen of MouseGuard and Eric Orchard of Marrowbones, two creators who are on my list of artists whose work I dream of owning. Also on this list are Gabriel Hardman, Chris Samnee and now SM Vidaurri.

Iron: Or, the War After will be available in October from Archaia, Amazon and all good comic book stores.


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