Skottie Young, well-known comic artist and author, has teamed up with Kyle Strahm for a miniseries featuring an unusual questor and his mysterious quest. The story is complete in five issues, combined into a single volume. Some publication data labels it “volume 1” but there is no evidence that additional stories are planned for the protagonist.
Twig, a blue beastie with a charming twig hat and a sarcastic slug-like friend, wakes up late on the first day of his first quest and everything seems to go downhill from there. He longs to live up to his dead father’s legacy as a placeling, one who puts items into place for heroes to use on their quests to save the world. But he’s panicked at the realization that, untrained as he is, he will be responsible for the last placement of the last magical item, the only chance for a hero to save the world from a dark and deadly doom.
Twig makes new friends and enemies, reflects on his past and his present, and survives extraordinary adventures as he races to catch up and fulfill his purpose, but will he be successful? Or, as he fears, will he fail along the way, proving himself to be nothing more than an untrained placeling, better at cooking than questing, only chosen because there was no one else to carry on his father’s legacy?
Young and Straum’s imaginations populate Twig’s world with a wild variety of creatures, many of them drooling and many-toothed, some integrated with strange steampunk gadgets, others looking like giant, hungry worms. Twig himself, with his wide mouth, flat teeth, and delicate black claws appears to be largely an herbivore. Splat, his many-legged and stretchable friend, shines brightly in yellow and occasionally literally lights up in dark spaces. They meet a rhinoceros-like creature with a pink hide, hunted nearly to extinction, a terrifying jellyfish-like beast with glowing green eyes, imprisoned for eons, and an eyeless hunter who is after Twig’s pelt, among many others. Straum stays away from the stereotype of furry=friendly, and the creatures range from terrifying to neutral, some dripping with goo, others simply chowing down on mysterious goop, or with no visual hints as to their unfriendliness until they try to eat and/or skin Twig and his companions.
Although there are moments of creature violence, the level of gore is akin to the original Star Wars movies, with perhaps a bit more liquid on occasion. What makes this rated for teens, in my opinion, is the theme of struggling with making your own way in the world, stepping out from a parent’s shadow, but still wanting to feel like your parents are proud of you. Reflections on the nature of relationships, failure, and the destruction wrought by supposedly intelligent and sentient creatures are also threaded throughout the story and while sometimes the text leans toward trite, it’s a good fit for the questing theme. There are moments of black humor as well, mostly from the smart orifice of Splat, and one finishes the story with a satisfied feeling that Twig will do ok in the future, as will his world.
Recommended to teen and adult fans of Jeff Smith’s Bone and those who like a little reflection in their action stories.
By Skottie Young
Art by Kyle Strahm
Publisher Age Rating: T
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16)