Written by Kevin Gunstone
Art by Slobodan Jovanovic
Pencils Stefn Mrkonjic
We visit the city of Ytza at a most perilous time. It seems that the Kulkan is near death, having lost his neural link with his warriors; Without Kulkan, the Skybearers will not be able to replenish the Aten. There isn’t enough time to wait for a new Ahau to emerge due to the threat of the vicious savages that infest the city’s borders.
If the above made total sense to you, then you are clearly a fan of this book. Me on the other hand, have come to the party late. The foreword in the book casts no doubts that this is somewhat a labour of love for those involved. Right from the outset, the potential inconsistencies between historical opinion and story are defended. However, I am not sure there is an actual need to do so. It is obvious as to where the book gets its inspiration, but there is enough differences to history texts that allow for the future element to feature.
Writer Kevin Gunstone has an “explain as I go” style. Granted the book is three issues in, but it is refreshing to see a writer not have to clutter a page with explanation as to what certain terms mean. In order to do that, some of the characters tend to fall on the chewing scenery side of the fence as they have the dubious double duty of trying to move the story along, whilst also trying to inform, and in some cases infer, the reader of the social landscape. For the most part, it wasn’t distracting for me. On the other hand, if you have read the previous issues and know your Ahau from your Aten, it might come across as repetitive.
Slobodan Jovanovic is the artist who has to create the Skybearers worlds and make it look believable. To that end he does a decent job. The book reminds me of some of the stuff that Dark Horse are putting out in their Mignola-verse. The pace of the book is a little slow, mainly due to the large exposition elements of some of the characters. The overall feel of the book is helped out by colorist Strefan Mrkonjic whose use of a browns and murky greens really sells the tone of the book.
My main concern regarding the book is that, it is pretty clear that the Neanderthal is a genre that all those involved in the book love. But at some point, it needs to be clear that this is a comic book and unfortunately will need to fall to the mediums expectation. Yes, comic can push boundaries and offer alternative insights, but they have to be entertaining. This book runs the risk of losing the entertainment part in order to serve as an education into the alternative history of Neanderthals.
You can purchase a copy here