Writer- Ash Maczko
Artist - Ashley Witter
Publisher- Devil's Due
Bunnies, squirrels, itty bitty mice, and majestic foxes, all prancing about in cute little clothes and cobbled together bits of armor. "D'awwwww!" you must be thinking. That would be the normal human response to something that should be vomit inducingly cute.
Writer Ash Maczko spits on your cute little thoughts, because this book is brutality incarnate and it kind of made me uncomfortable reading it.
The world has suffered some sort of plague, humans are gone, animals can think and speak for themselves. Apparently with self-awareness comes an insatiable desire to brutally maim and murder damn near everything.
In this character-driven narrative, we follow a band of semi-peace loving rodents and their desire to make their way in the world. As the plot moves along, we are introduced to a variety of cuddly, little fuzzballs that will win your heart over before trying to rip it out still beating from your from your chest. Each character feels heavily fleshed out in personality, with each having a unique voice.
And as the cast of characters expands and the story grows, it gets gradually more confusing as to which rat is threatening which squirrel, because in spite of their personalities and quirky names, the rodents often kind of blend together as far as design goes. Capes and shirts help, but often times these little discerning features are muted by the scene or angle.
If you can toss that aside, this is a very intense story about betrayal, and the cost of kindness in a world designed for brutality. At their basest instincts, these animals have hunted and foraged their entire lives. They die out in nature, but when a flying squirrel gouges out a tiny mouse's eyeball with a dagger, it shakes you a bit.
The writing in this story is macabre, but the story moves along rather briskly.
The art duties undertaken by Ashley Witter are monstrously beautiful. From the scenes, to the characters, to the horrendous executions, each panel resonates so strongly.
The colors are beautiful, and in a world painted in lush greens and simple browns, the blood stains stand out ever so starkly. This whole series is visually captivating. We do get brief glimpses into the human world, a ghost of the past, and these moments are not quite as potent, but certainly far from unimpressive.
Clearly there is something amazing with this creative pair because the visual and narrative tale of Squarriors moves forward so organically it is impossible not to recommend.
In summation, the book is beautiful and gory as hell. The narrative is brisk and inviting. My only gripe is sometimes I can't tell apart the furballs, but they are all so damn cute and murdery who cares?! Definitely a book worth your time.