In Animosity: Evolution, All Animals Are Equal
In Marguerite Bennet’s Animosity: Evolution Volume #1, we experience a city in rebuilding after “the wake.” The wake was an event when the world’s animals “woke up,” being able to think and talk as humans do. Our story focuses on San Francisco, now under construction and ruled by a canine named Wintermute. We are introduced to the kangaroo rat “Grassland sisters”: Octavia, Julia, Augusta, and Septicemia. We follow them as they adjust to city life and dive deeper into its darker places. Meanwhile, we also follow Dr. Adam North. North is on a mission to find a revolutionary group that is trying to overthrow Wintermute and her regime.
First and foremost, Animosity: Evolution Volume #1 is a spin-off of an ongoing series called Animosity. I bring this up because I went in blind. Despite this, the story holds up on its own and, with the quick recap of “the wake,” you settle into the world of Animosity just fine. I never felt like I was missing anything.
Now, let’s talk about the plot. Unlike other stories such as Zoo, consciousness in animals does not equal a man vs. wild murder-fest. At this point of the series (I can’t say for earlier), the focus is on how both animals and humans are mentally adjusting to a brave new world. Fundamentally, Animosity: Evolution is a story about a post-revolutionary country and its refugees. Our protagonists hope to achieve a better life through the safety of the city. However, these characters spend most of the book struggling with what they were and what they must be now. This creates an interesting opportunity for some smart real-life parallels which the book takes great advantage of.
Like George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Animosity: Evolution uses the animals and their humans as allegories for different political and social ideologies. For example, Wintermute (a dog/wolf hybrid) governs in a manner that can be either be seen as naïvely socialist or terrifyingly fascist. One of the ongoing questions is if or when she will go too far in her attempt to fix the many problems of the city.
Between ideological nods like this and the past vs. present war, the comic is filled with chaos that keeps the reader engaged.
Being the first volume of this series, there are a lot of naïve characters in this book. Part of the joy of reading this comic is discovering the city through their eyes.
Dr. North is a vet who is now acting as assistant/pseudo-unofficial sheriff. He seems to have a mysterious and questionably close relationship with Wintermute. Because of this, his conflict with this new role and some of the decisions are pretty juicy to read.
The only downside to both characters is the fact that they are, once again, pretty noob. North has a high man-child-like dependency on Wintermute. Octavia and her sisters get themselves into many dangerous situations. This is because they just can’t or won’t think about the consequences. These things may wear on the reader in the long run. The heat is coming on though and I am hoping future events will allow these characters to branch out a bit more. In particular, I hope we get more about why North has just faith in his leader.
The art in this book is on point. All the animals are drawn with realistic detail. Yet, there is flexibility to express human-like emotion in the animal designs. This is important since many of the animals to take on human qualities (wearing clothes, utensil-use, etc.). Color and style changes indicate tone shifts in the comic. The panels change from slice-of-life to film noir smoothly. All in all, the art doesn’t completely blow my mind. However, it gets the job done and done well.
Overall, Animosity: Evolution transforms the “animal dystopia” trope into something refreshing and satisfying. The art itself does not do anything extraordinary or experimental. Yet, it does do its job beautifully and matches the tone of the story it’s telling. I’m really looking forward to the next volume.
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