Written by Kurt Busiek
Art by Benjamin Dewey
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Lettering & Design by John Roshell, Jimmy Betancourt, and Comicraft
Published by Image Comics
In the last arc of The Autumnlands, the citizens of Keniel escaped the Bison tribe and were saved by the remaining sixteen cities. Unfortunately, Dunstan, the magician apprentice terrier, and Learoyd, the technologically advanced human from the past, fell in a river and were presumed dead.
The issue begins with the survivors in the rescue hall called Sarabarr the Merciful. There are talks of “punitive measures” against the Bison tribe, which sounds dangerously like genocide. Some of the survivors wonder why the other 16 cities had not come to their rescue earlier, and there is about to be an explanation, but Gharta and Sandoorst get into a fight. Tensions have not settled down between the two. Gharta is about to give Sandoorst a blast of pain when Lord Talon, head honcho of all the magicians, interrupts. He has learned that Keniel managed to summon the supposed Great Champion, and that he is needed. Meanwhile, Learoyd and Dunstan are swept away by a river and they have no idea from the cities they are. The only thing to do is walk and hope to return.
This issue takes a break from the action for more world building. Dunstan teaches Learoyd about the source of magic. Where it comes from and how it is used sounds similar to energy in the real world and has similar consequences. It is interesting to see how the creators reflect the real world in The Autumnlands and shows that the series is much more than escapist fiction about talking animals.
Learoyd and Dunstan’s relationship continues to blossom, but it is not always roses. Learoyd is grateful to Dunstan, but has no interest in being the champion of the Autumnlands. He wants to go home. He does give Dunstan important advice: think like a grown-up and make your own decisions. Dunstan stays by Learoyd’s side, much like a loyal dog would stay by its owner, except the man treats the dog as an equal. It is heart warming and shows off Learoyd’s good side despite his harsh exterior.
Learoyd continues to be mysterious. He might be suffering from amnesia and might be a bit touched in the head, possibly a side effect of the spell that brought him to the Autumnlands. Are these clues that he is the Great Champion or something else?
As always, Benjamin Dewey’s art is wonderful, particularly the cover. It masterfully fits together three separate compositions: a white cover, Dunstan and Learoyd in the center of a campfire, and the shape of a bear. The comic maintains this level of detail with highly expressive, unique characters and a fully fleshed out world. Jordie Bellaire’s colors give all these elements life, the most impressive is how she accurately displays daytime and nighttime, showing a natural progression the sun and moon as they orbit the sky. Sunrise is orange-red, Day is bright with a blue sky, Sunrise is orange-purple, and Night is dark with a blue tint to the world.
The only downside to the issue is that some of the dialogue is expository and recaps what happened in the previous arc. It is probably necessary given the long delay, but still feels a tad annoying. This is a very small complaint to a series that continues to get better.
With fantastic art, unique world building, and an intriguing cast of characters, The Autumnlands #7 picks up where the first arc left off with promises of bigger, better stories on the horizon.