ANIMOSITY: EVOLUTION #4 / Writer: Marguerite Bennett / Artist: Eric Gapstur / Colorist: Rob Schwager / Letterer: Marshall Dillon / Aftershock Comics / February 14th, 2018
Animosity: Evolution is my favorite of Marguerite Bennett’s three Animosity titles so far. Evolution evolves out of a a previous miniseries, Animosity: The Rise, which had a tighter focus on the two main characters, a veterinarian named Adam and Wintermute. Wintermute is my favorite character in the Animosity universe. She is a genetic hybrid of multiple wolf and dog breeds with an unknown origin, as well as the first of the Animata, animal/machine hybrids. Her rule over The City By The Sea (formerly San Francisco) is hated as she tries to pull together a society around unity. Her reign enforces such rules as no breeding during the first year (the series occurs a month in), no hunting, and work to eat programs.
What propels this series over the miniseries is a larger focus on Wintermute’s community. In this issue we see the leader of her Raiders, Gwen, force a community out of their homes because the land is needed for growing. My favorite of Bennett’s stellar conversations in the issue is when she compares their new world order as similar to the old and Gwen replies it is the best way to ensure people live to see it. Animosity: Evolution explores the necessity and the unpleasantness of immoral actions in a world where ten billion lives are trying to survive in the city alone.
At the same time, we have a story-line around a murder investigation and the development of a criminal class that involves nearly every notable character in some capacity. A trio of characters make a pretty bold return to the series after a break last issue and we get to spend a large amount of time with the criminal class, which includes an Animata. There is a lot of exposition in this issue, but letterer Marshall Dillon manages to squeeze it into panels big and small seemingly with ease. It comes at the cost of sound effects, but his one for the issue is superb.
Eric Gapstur is the perfect fit for this universe. His depictions of animals is top notch, from the general framework to displays of emotion and the look of them in motion. His work on the humans is pretty sharp too, with a lot of clean lines.
Gasptur always picks the best angle to cast a panel in, emphasizing details in major to minor ways. His establishing shots are great at getting in just as close as needed while also giving you the layout of the land. His paneling is very strong too, with a nice consistency in horizontally paneled pages and vertical splashes. His panels within panels are a real highlight thanks to fantastic color contrast by Rob Schwager.
Schwager’s coloring enhances every scene it is placed over. The opening scenes cast a lovely purple shade over characters on green hills, one of many examples of the great effect Schwager takes with coloring his lighting to create mood. His use of shadows is also strong, often shading character’s faces to enhance Gapstur’s pencils. Rob Schwager and Eric Gapstur make an exceptional team. Schwager’s coloring and lighting does an excellent job transitioning the eye between panels. Sometimes it is through bold coloring, other times it is through lighting effects that catch then drift the eye towards shadows.
The Animata as Wintermute’s personal muscle is an interesting idea. The current story arc is centered around them, while this issue is centered around the duality of blessing and curse that is Wintermute’s affection. The artistic team does an excellent job with enhancing both aspects. The technological aspects of the Animata casts a bold red light that is only reused on side panels involving the Animata. The affection between Wintermute and those loyal to her is best visualized when neither Wintermute nor Adam seem sure about petting the other one for comfort.
I imagine everyone has their own list of favorite creative teams. The ones who gel together perfectly and create absolute magic when they are together. A couple of mine are Kieron Gillen/Jaime McKelvie/Matthew Wilson, and Brian Michael Bendis/David Marquez/Justin Ponsor. I think Marguerite Bennett, Eric Gapstur, and Rob Schwager belong in that list as well. And Marshall Dillon is a Animosity MVP, with stellar work across all three titles. Their work together on Animosity: Evolution is something we are all better off for having out there.
5/5 Perfectly Realized Universes