The Wyld: Before the Storm (Chapter One) – Lee Xopher

3 out of 5

There’s clearly a lot of world-building that went in to The Wyld. The first few pages lay out the basics of a world torn apart by magic, leaving clusters of anthropomorphic characters struggling to maintain a status quo for survival; a wolf leaves its child with a family of sheep, marking a tree with a mysterious rune when it leaves.

At the end of this first chapter, Lee Xopher and artist Nate Xopher give us summaries / previews of the characters, and their bios show off that the cast consists of more than just outlines of archetypes; a world map follows. And throughout the issue, characters speak in a way that’s suggestive of the history and cultures that exists beyond what we’re shown on the page.

…However, the challenge with doing a lot of world-building up front is (for this reader’s tastes) connecting your audience with a reason to read, first, then educating them on that world in a digestible manner. “Rok” – the wolf abandoned in that prologue, now grown – is a good lead character, as his outsider status, being the only wolf around, gives him a good, introductory POV for us to latch on to, and the serious tone of the world as juxtaposed to Nate Xopher’s bright, bubbly cartoonism is fun, but ‘Before the Storm’ ends up feeling a bit too cluttered and noisy in delivering its main story point: that something is messing with the harvests in Rok’s town, and he’s going to find out what. So Lee trips over himself a bit in delivering that world-building while also plotting, and one of the unique visual elements – word bubbles that drift off the page, or text that’s spoken over to indicate someone not listen to the other person – is interesting, but kinda comes off as accidental lettering placement instead, kind of indicative of the “I see what you’re doing but it’s a little off” vibe of the book.

Still, I’d rather have more ideas than too few, and the enthusiasm behind the title is visible on the page.