Author: Ash Maczko
Artist/Colorist: Ashley Witter
In anticipation of the third book in the series, let me take you on a refresher course of Devil’s Due Entertainments “Squarriors” Author and creator Ash Maczko creates a post apocalyptic world in which the animals that live right outside your back window have now gained sentience.
Please note that if you have yet to read Squarriors #1 & #2 the following does contain spoilers.
Our story begins in a tiny watering hole in the backwoods of Illinois. The television news reports warn against leaving your home. Unseen chaos has taken the nation by storm but good old Gene just continues to enjoy his drink. A hooded stranger arrives to stake claim to the truck parked in the lot but quickly puts good old Gene out of his misery when he tries to object to his vehicle’s confiscation.
Fast forward a decade and the landscape has become overgrown and appears devoid of human life. But there is other life. The animals in the fields are now intelligent and have formed factions that are built on needs as opposed to species. The foundation of the burgeoning tale centers on the Tin Kin and Maw tribes. The Tin Kin have been decimated by a plague called the winter sickness that has claimed numerous lives and still infects many more. The clan is running low on food and medical supplies and a scout, Pasha, has ventured solo on a dangerous journey to find a more hospitable location to stake claim to.
Meanwhile, the Tin Kin council has tough choices to make. Eli the fox urges an alliance with the Maw but King, the Tin Kin leader, wants to send out a full scout party to locate a better land. The party is sent to locate a rumored human stronghold and to find Pasha along the way. If the expedition to find a save haven fails, they will need to turn to negotiating a peace with the Maw, their most feared rivals. As the scouts journey south they are confronted by the Maw. With little choice the Tin Kin fight back, killing some Maw in the process and retreat back to their home base. King decides that he now needs to take Eli’s advice and call a meeting with the Maw to cease hostilities.
Issue #2 gives us an additional glimpse into the events leading up to the end of mankind with riots in California, military presence and a general sense of dread mounting. Once again, a decade later, the Maw patrol has returned to their base to inform their leader, Redcoat, that they had been ambushed. Redcoat has a keen mind however and recognizes that the Tin Kin don’t have it in them to be the aggressor. He knows that soon a meeting will be called for but begins plans to end the Tin Kin clan once and for all.
Through flashback we are shown how the Maw and Tin Kin were once under the thumb of the Amoni Empire, ruled by the tyrannical Emperor Ra. Red Coat and Brand, the Tin Kin leader, formed a union to challenge the Amoni. Through much bloodshed the battle was won and the two factions gained independence. Brand was killed in cold blood by Redcoat however once the war with the Amoni was through. Foreshadowing the same result will occur now, King sends Eli to call the meeting as his size and strength will deter the Maw from shooting the messenger but where do Eli’s loyalties lie? What are his true intensions? We are left with the heart wrenching discovery of Pasha’s fate.
Ash Maczko has created a certifiable masterpiece in Squarriors. Where the premise could have fallen into a campy take on an animal take over but instills a depth of feeling that you would not expect. The storyline makes you invest in the characters immediately. While the storyline is excellent, artist Ashley Witter is an absolute genius. Ever panel, every line, every shade is drawn and colored so expertly you feel like you are reading the equivalent of an IMAX movie. Her attention to detail is so exquisite you forget that you are looking at a drawing.
I can’t wait to dive back into the world of Squarriors when issue #3 is released in June. In the meantime I will reread the first two installments again and read anything that I can find that Ashley Witter draws.
4.5 of 5 Tin Kins
4 of 5 Maws
Review: Paul A DiNello