I live about a five minute walk from the shores of one of the Great Lakes. During the summer, when the weather is nice enough to sit outside, I like sitting on the beach, taking in some vitamin D, and reading a great comic. For the month of July, I’m going to feature my picks for beach reading.
Hinterkind, vol. 1: The Waking World
Written by Ian Edginton
Illustrated by Francesco Trifogli
Colored by Cris Peter
Lettered by Dezi Sienty
Cover Art and Original Series Covers by Greg Tocchini
Published by Vertigo Comics
File under: Post-Apocalyptic/Science Fiction
Age Level: Adult
A world that’s devoid, or nearly devoid, of humans who have been replaced by other species, has been the topic of many stories from Planet of the Apes to the Fallout video games. This type of world fascinates most because we wonder what would take over, and if the few survivors could make it. In Hinterkind: the Waking World, author Ian Edginton and artist Francesco Trifogli create a world where the creatures previously pushed beyond the veil return to the earth to rule the remaining humans. The Hinterkind, elves, goblins, trolls, fey, and other mythological creatures, regain the earth after an apocalyptic event while only a few human colonies remain.
Hinterkind: the Waking World follows best friends Prosper Monday and Angus Chung growing up in what was Central Park, one of the few remaining human colonies 3,000 years after a catastrophic event. Assigned to be farmers, but aspiring to be hunters, Prosper and Angus leave their colony to forge their own path. On their travels, they encounter tigons (yes, amazing tiger/lion hybrids), trolls, and an elf who want to sell them to the queen of the Sidhe for a handsome bounty. However, as their elven and goblin captors move them, they encounter another human hunting convoy, and a few secrets left hidden in the overgrown wilderness. Will Prosper and Angus survive their captors? What is the fate of the humans captured by the Sidhe queen? Who are the people in the space suits?
I picked Hinterkind for my first “Beach Read” because of its nature story and the earth reclaiming itself, much like the Discovery Channel’s Life Without Humans series. However, unlike most stories in this vein, nature is not a pacifist, growing at its own pace and reclaiming the land. Through the Hinterkind, the earth is personified as a vengeful, spiteful spirit which has been forced to live in the shadows of the human world. This took the book to a much darker place than I expected, but it was refreshing to read an “angry earth” tale as I sat on the beach contemplating the strength of the waves across the shore.
One storytelling technique Edginton uses is a gospel-like narration titled, “The First Book of Monday”. It is uncertain who the author is as both Asa, Prosper’s grandfather, and Prosper herself, have the personalities to be prophets among the humans. This makes the legitimacy of the gospel a bit less believable, and you don’t know if this is one of the characters’ perspectives of the world or if their view of the world is seen through the religious text. I was not particularly fond of the gospel as it interferes with the reader’s interpretation of the world. We should be able to interpret the fear and disgust of the Hinterkind on Prosper and Angus’ faces when they first encounter a troll, or pick up from the dialog between the humans and Hinterkind to understand their mutual disgust for one another; however, an expert from “The First Book of Monday” plainly lays out the feelings in three panels:
The art by Trifogli is gritty and gloomy, a reflection of the dark world our protagonists find themselves in. The colors are vibrant and lush, and each location has its own unique color palate; greens and blues at the human’s homesteads; salmons and yellow for the angelic Sidhe; and muddy browns for the most nefarious of the earth’s inhabitants. Plus, as someone who recently acquired the Fables covers reprint, I know that Vertigo has a knack for picking cover artists who can accurately convey the tone of the individual issues. Tochini’s covers evoke a sense of light airiness while conveying the dark plot twist the characters will face within the issue.
While the use of narration though The Gospel of Monday was a bit off putting and many of the subplots are left unfulfilled and unaddressed, Hinterkind: The Waking World is an interesting mix of speculative fiction and fairy tale. However, if you are interested in a strictly human survival story or a Fables-like investigation of how mythological and folklore creatures would life in the earth as it is now, this book is not for you. For a quick read and an introduction to an interesting world, this book might just fit the bill.