One of the major themes of this book has been that for all the visual gruesomeness we’ve seen in the form of buffalotaurs and giant frogs, the true villain has been man.
That gets exposed in the worst way possible in this issue, though Chris Dingess takes pains to signify that the environment itself isn’t that forgiving.
Roberts is always a visual joy and he proves it again this issue. His facial work is absolutely delightful; through it’s in the macabre that his art takes flight. One can just see the final page of every issue and understand how good this guy is.
When last we left our travelers, Clark and his group were in the waters with a gigantic mutated frog while Lewis and the rest watched the horror show from the ship.
Sadly one straggler gets taken even as Clark and his team make it to shore – only now they are separated from Lewis’ group.
I love how Roberts shows the kill. As like the ripples across the water, the moment passes. One ripple he’s struggling, the next only his hand is seen and then, that too is gone, leaving only a pool of blood in its wake.
The ‘unwanted on both sides’ bond between Clark and Sacagawea is on show as she saves his life two times in this issue (don’t worry, she’s keeping count) – first by cutting of a stray tentacle tongue of the frog that grips Clark’s leg and then reveals that she led them to the particular side of the shore because it seems the flowers there are driving all wildlife away. Through the latter feels more fortunate than any real result of her work.
Clark and Lewis communicate using a rope tied from the ship’s mast to a tree on the shore, as they send rations and Lewis’ drawings on the ship’s current predicament and the beast that stalks them (giving it the name ‘Ranidea’ or true frog) while Clark sends the severed tongue for study .
One of the men, Shaw, attempts to use the line to go to the boat but sadly, one frog jump later, he’s lost. This leads to both Clark and Lewis taking charge on their different fronts.
The Irene Lebrun-Corporal Hardy B-plot also continues with some unexpected resolution. First we see if Irene falling into the water as they try to escape the frog and Hardy saving her. Then when Clark delegates the crew to search the forest and gather specimens, Irene and Hardy form a pair (even as one of the convicts Jensen gives them the shifty look) and we suppose that Hardy will have to be the shining knight to whatever befalls them.
But what actually transpires is in the solitary of the forest, Hardy’s good natured mask comes off and he attempts to rape Irene, confessing that he had been playing her since the beginning to get in her good books.
This horrible incident dulls us to the attack by a humongous fly, who kills Hardy and is about to attack Irene. I love how we get Hardy going faint even as he attempts to do the same to Irene, and that gives rise to our suspicions before Roberts does the reveal.
I love how despite the monstrosity on show with the stalking frog and the hideous insect, we saw mostly the vices inherent in man – foolishness, lust and savagery. Chris seems to be portraying the humans as the monsters that have interrupted the natural balance, instead of the opposite.
With some great imagery, some interesting dialogue on the nature of man and all around great moments, Dingess and Roberts continue to work well.
Given that there weren’t more ‘monsters’ in the main event here, Roberts does remarkably well with his human work, as faces change and evolve with the circumstances. The panel pacing is also excellent.
So, I give this 9.0 out of 10
+Good commentary on the human nature
+Great facial work
+Excellent panel progression
+The final reveal
-Clark’s rescue hinged on a fortunate incident instead of any real action