3 out of 5
With Voracious’ first arc, I was duly impressed by how writer Markisan Naso balanced such a high concept idea with a cast of well-developed characters, each element of the whole effectively propping up the other. But the four issue series was notably all prelude: putting the pieces into place to presumably remind us (in a then forthcoming arc) that time travel never works out. …Even if you’re using that ability for the good if meat-eating mankind, traveling to what is assumed to be our past, killing some dinosaurs, and using the meaty spoils as the feature kitsch dish at your new hit restaurant. This just so happens to be Nate’s plan in Voracious, assisted by his army-trained Uncle, Jim, and second arc Feeding Time promised to take us through the next great twist Naso’s put on his story: those dino burgers are actually being sourced from an alternate universe in which dinosaurs became the dominant species; thus we jump forward to ‘the Cretaceous,’ with dino cops Gus and Owen leading an investigation into the sudden disappearances dotting the globe. Get it? Because Nate is eating their ancestors? Whatever the terminology would be for quadrupling the height on an already high concept: Consider it applicable to Feeding Time.
And there are still some amazing (and hilarious) surprises in store, treading the line between self-aware pulp and whip-smart plotting.
So why the three stars? Well – it’s a bit misleading, as I suspect (hope) that the upcoming arc will retroactively amend this, but for as essentially little that happened in the first arc, in a way, even less happens here. Voracious’ initial outing may have been setup, but the density of character work and mythology building made the lack of actual events occurring a minor niggle. Arc two suffers from scope creep, but also compression: It’s too much story for five issues, dealing with dino ramifications and the fallout for Nate and Jim, leaving the Earth-bound characters as unfortunate afterthoughts, and also necessitating a bit of (no pun intended) tail chasing with the main story line. The arc ends just when it’s sort of kicking into gear (which is why the concluding arc my retroactively adjust my feelings), and as the Dino world is literally introduced on page one, I admittedly asked That’s It? As I closed issue five’s cover. And I suppose I’m also conflicted with concern that one more arc wont be able to fully give this world it’s due. I want more of the good stuff, is that so wrong?
In terms of good stuff, though, Naso still delivers a swath of believable dialogue, even if he has to chew on cop cliché a bit to deliver Gus and Owen in a digestible (seriously, no pun intended) format. At a high level, although the excessive swearing somewhat grates, what’s impressive is how he avoids other cliches: although I’ve stated the characters get a short shrift, the overall path of the relationships is pleasingly mature. People respond to each other how you’d logically hope they would, and not just in a way that makes it easier to plot dramatics.
On the art team, Jason Muhr really shines, reigning in his sometimes unnecessarily dramatic camera angles for some masterfully crafted story-telling and wonderfully imagined environments in the Dino world. Andrei Tabacaru’s colors add a lot of nuance to the same (and really give the dinos a great texture), but there’s still some “over-acting” in the art that I think might be coming across from the coloring – excessive shading or detail which doesn’t sit well with Muhr’s style.
Three stars; some possibly obsessive criticisms. Still: buy this book. This is amazing work from a relatively fresh team, and only draws this more detailed nitpicking because I’m enjoying it so much. And if you buy it, maybe they can afford a print version of volume three, just for me, eh?