Review: Beastlands (To Infinity Studios)

Now funding on Kickstarter, we get an advance look at Curtis Clow’s mix of fantasy, magic and animal sidekicks.

Publisher: To Infinity Studios
Writer: Curtis Clow
Artist: Jo Mi-Geyong
Price: Now funding on Kickstarter

Set In a world where people have animal companions called keepers, it takes a dark twist when we learn that these companions are now outlawed and the king executes his griffin like companion with brutal effect. The action then shifts to a band of misfits in the woods who are ignoring this law and are under attack from some robbers and are rescued by their illegal keeper. We then learn that this group are on the search for a mission trail from one of there number’s father and need to go to the big city find out more

The concept of Beastlands is a very strong one (although it did remind his of His Dark Materials with the animal companions) but it has a more mature and adult tone to it that almost reminded us of Saga at times (especially with the levels of blood, violence and swearing). This is especially proved by the brutal execution of the king’s keeper.

Unfortunately the story leaps from a strong opening scene to the scenes in the woodland without an obvious strand from one to the other. It almost feels as if we have skipped over a couple of pages that explain where the story is going. The group of misfits led by Mac and his keeper Renzo get a great introduction but we never really learn what they are doing and where they are going – beyond a brief mention of a ‘fathers trail’ which seems to take them though the woods and into the city. The supporting cast are also very weak and blend into the background yet visually they seem to have an eclectic look.

The visuals is definitely a real plus for Beastlands. Artist Jo-Mi Geyong has a highly polished contemporary anime infused style that reminded us of everything from a softer version of Joe Madureira’s Battlechasers, to a lighter version of Gav Mitchell’s work in Trolltooth Wars. It is exceptional though and gives the book a real slickness to makes this feel like one of those indie books which is every bit as good as a mainstream book.