Wild’s End vol. 3 GN: Journey’s End – Dan Abnett

4 out of 5

Storywise, everything I could have asked for from Dan’s fun and gripping Wild’s End series.  I’m not sure what the driving decision was to release this as a graphic novel instead of individual issues (the content is divided into six parts, with the same kind of extras from the previous series – maps, diaries – at the end of each part, so this very much seems to have been written as individual comics), though we can suppose it was a financial one; whatever the reason, though, I’m so appreciative that BOOM!, Dan, and artist I.N,J. Culbard brought the story to what certainly functions as a conclusion.  Could it continue from here?  Sure, but it would be a different focus; Wild’s End has been about the sudden descent of an unbeatable foe and this particular anthropomorphic world’s response to that.

…Which hasn’t been great, and borders on nervously real, with military might stepping in and accusing every person every which way of treason while not moving fast enough to act on potentially valuable information.  In the last volume, that left Clive, Peter, Susan and the rest split up or confined all about Lower Crowchurch; Journey’s End is the direct continuation, bringing everyone – in a fun, roundabout fashion – back together, only to question if there’s anything they can do at all.

And that’s been one of the great pluses to Dan’s story: taking the normal alien invasion storyline and effectively making it feel like there’s no way out, while building up each of his characters’ personalities to make us truly root for them and be swept up in their emotional ups and downs, and to mourn losses when they come.  That trend absolutely continues here.  When the perpetually sober and serious Mr. Slipaway cracks a smile in one scene, you’re floored and grinning yourself; when Susan curses herself for wandering onto a minefield, you chuckle at her typically prickly response but worry for her as well.  There’s good, dry British humor, and some grand action as well.

That last bit, though, takes a hit: I.N.J. Culbard, as I’ve continually criticized, just isn’t the best choice for large scale.  When the set pieces demand big moments, his simplified style (and using strictly color to define space – no linework) just isn’t compelling to me at all, and feels too shorthand a method to properly depict crowds or craziness.  That being said, I can’t imagine how another style would’ve worked to nail the characters, who by and large have sold the story, but this last chapter necessarily has those aforementioned big moments that are lacking in impact.

Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be game for a volume 4 by the same team… although next I want Dan to somehow tie this into Dark Ages.