The Finder Library: Volume 1

As a Finder, Jaeger is always searching for something: objects, people, answers. A wanderer by both inclination and necessity, he has nevertheless forged a few close, complicated relationships over the years and when chance allows or intuition compels, he retraces his footsteps through the barren Badlands back to the densely layered city of Anvard and the small handful of familiar faces it shelters. One belongs to Emma Grosvenor, in whose chaotic home he finds a kind of acceptance, though not all of her children are equally enamored of their flighty mother’s vagrant “boyfriend.” Another is that of Emma’s estranged husband, Brigham, whose long history with Jaeger makes it impossible for the latter to abandon him, despite the man’s dangerously faulty grasp of reality. As the damaged family’s situation deteriorates, Jaeger struggles to understand how best to help his friends and balance his conflicting responsibilities even as he wrestles with his own personal insecurities and identity issues.

With its crumbling domed cities no one remembers building, ubiquitous reality-saturated media, and references to the likes of Pop Tarts and the Goblin King, the incredibly rich, complex world of Finder is one both eerily like and yet clearly removed from our own. Presumably set some centuries into the future, its populace has somehow amassed and assimilated a treasure trove of context-less pop culture references from the past. The result is an alien yet familiar environment defined by clan and class and filled with a hodge-podge assortment of peoples displaying varying levels of tolerance for technology, divergence, and each other. Unfortunately for Jaeger, that limited tolerance rarely extends to outcasts such as himself.

An organic mix of cartoonishness and realism, boldness and nuance, raw beauty and unvarnished ugliness, McNeil’s articulate, visual storytelling proves an ideal fit for her complex setting, sympathetically flawed characters, and thoughtful, frank explorations of gender, race, sex, puberty, family, society, identity, creativity, memory, morality, consumerism, and more. That she manages to incorporate so many themes without diminishing the integrity of her work is a testament to her skill. And that she makes you want to revisit it all time and again is another.

With little exposition and so much to take in here, you may feel a little lost at first; but trust the author to make it all make as much sense as it needs to, when it needs to, and you’ll be fine. By the time you reach the illuminating and entertaining end notes, you’ll find you’ve absorbed and understood far more than you realized and that lingering over the detailed panels to piece things together for yourself has been an integral part of the pleasure.

Smart, involving, and unique, Finder is a heady, imaginative blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and social commentary for mature readers. This first collected volume from the Eisner Award-winning indie series (and occasional webcomic) includes the stories “Sin-Eater,” “King of Cats,” and “Talisman,” (a.k.a. Finder #1-#22 of the original run), along with an introduction by Douglas Wolk, end notes, and a color cover-art gallery.

The Finder Library: Volume 1
by Carla Speed McNeil
ISBN 9781595826527
Dark Horse, 2011

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