A Comic a Day in May – Day 1: Wild Nature #1 & 2

David Taylor’s dystopian thriller, Wild Nature, had all the hallmarks of being the type of book I’d love so it was one that I easily got behind during it’s Kickstarter campaigns.

It tells the story of a futuristic world where this brutal blood sport was played out for the entertainment of the masses as masked killers formed teams that go head-to-head in a televised death match.  That premise itself was enough to give a glimpse at just what David was trying to create but underneath that blood spattered surface was the deeper story of founder and greatest killer of all time, Swan, as he tackles a life away from the sport that made him famous.

It’s in that deeper layer that we see a man haunted by a history of violence that stretches beyond the obvious reaches of Wild Nature to a lifetime of wrestling with his conscience and the previous decisions he’s made.  Scrambling for a new life among the elite he’s not too far from the limelight and the unwanted attention of fans, enemies and ex-friends as the weight his name holds is just another aspect of his existence that can be tapped for more wealth.

The “normal” life he craves becomes something that he’s almost on the brink of getting hold of several times but the unhinged voice in his head is just as much of a hurdle as those with him in their sights.  That leads him into the possibility of resurrecting his previous persona and with the pull of an outlet for his messed up head being hard to escape completely, it’s soon clear that he’s never truly away from the killer inside.  Their IS a glimmer of hope though in the shape of Alice, a sister to one of Swan’s previous victims, and as they go from sworn enemies to individuals caught up in the aftermath of a sport that’s added more pain to their already troubled lives, the common ground they find sees them become shared souls in a world out to get them.

David has taken the initial idea of a brutal dystopian thriller and really built a world that’s crammed full of characters you can both love & hate in equal measure which is something he discusses in the back matter of the first issue as he describes just how much the story grew & changed from his original concept.  Across these two issues you can really see that depth laid out for all to see with the troubled, imperfect central character of Swan acting as a prime example of an anti-hero of sorts but with the bittersweet nature events around him allowing us to relate with him even further.  The introduction of Alice is key to giving Swan’s violent killer persona the possibility of growth on the way to some sort of redemption as their shared backgrounds and sense of right & wrong making it evident that a book about a televised blood sport was really a gateway for us to see a grittier world that’s rooted in realism.

The art from David captures the stark contrast between the TV world and the grim realities away from it whichever end of the social spectrum you find yourself on.  He explores the quest for an idyllic life and shows that it’s even harder to achieve when the past and your own mind torture you in the way that it can.  That means these two issues have already allowed us to connect with a character and set of situations that firmly holds our attention and with the third issue finale on the way, it still feels like anything can happen.  That combo of world building AND character building is hard to ignore when it’s handled this well but it just highlights how well David does at managing the writer/artist duties on a creation that he has absolute belief in.  A belief that’s poured into every aspect of the book which has in turn, drawn me in and convinced me just how right he is.  Kudos to Claire Napier on editing duties too as that extra layer of development has kept things exceptionally polished throughout the story so far.

You can catch up with Wild Nature & David’s other releases over on Buy Small Press and see what else he’s working on on his website and Twitter.

9/10

G-Man

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