This book was a bit of a surprise in more ways than one, but it is probably best to give a bit of backstory to set it up. Once upon a time, DC decided to reboot their entire universe. Which was fine. Sort of. Then they decided to cull some of the management – out with the old and in with the different old. After that, the Vertigo imprint would also get its own share of downsizing, which was nothing new for the line, but this was different as it was speculated to be the death knell for the brand. To the amazement of most, it was not, and the surprise was the announcement of new titles of which this was one.
A second surprise that this book delivered was the quality of the storytelling by Ian Edginton and Francesco Trifogli and just how good it turned out to be. Coming across as something of a mix between Terry Brooks’ Word and Void/Shannara series, Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, and Thundarr the Barbarian with a little sprinkling of Lord of the Rings, it really added a nice new flavour to the Vertigo house that had been missing, but to be fair, had never known it needed. With Image and other companies raising the bar so high, it was great to see ‘new’ Vertigo taking some chances.
Boiling it down, Hinterkind is about the Earth taking back its own and the human race getting screwed in the process. The term, Hinterkind, refers to all the lost and hidden races that start to reappear after mankind begins it trek on the road to extinction. It is a great blend of the post-apocalyptic genre, bred with some adventuring, intrigue and old-school fantasy. And why not throw in just a dash of horror for good measure. Definitely a tasty stew cooked up by veteran writer Edginton who is firing on all cylinders on this book.
One thing the story is not is boring. Whether it is a scene with our young heroine on her journey or the sidhe queen discussing politics with her daughter, the book keeps you glued to the page by pacing it right and making it interesting. Where have these creatures been all these years? How do zebras get on rooftops? Why is the queen so forgiving of the humans? Will mankind thrive in this new world? There are so many questions that can be asked, but only Edginton can answer. And it seems like he might, but in his own time and fashion, and we as readers, can only just keep doing that.
Our protagonist is a young girl, or teenager actually, named Prosper who decides to strike out and help her friend Angus on his travels, especially as he was supposed to be keeping an eye on her. She is obedient to a point, willful, adventurous, brave, stubborn and loyal. A lot of good qualities for a heroine to have and some that help her out along the way throughout the book.
The supporting cast is a bunch of compelling characters that can only make this book more and more interesting as the issues pass by. There is the elfin traitor Jon Hobb, though not by his story, Prosper’s grandfather Asa, and Angus who has discovered that he is a little bit more than human. As far as antagonists go, it seems like our heroes will have more than enough to face for quite a while with the Queen of the sidhe, Starla the bounty hunter, Ligons, trolls, goblins and all sorts of wild creatures, not to mention other humans. And last, but not least for a second mention, Jon Hobb. It is hard to figure out just where he stands at the moment.
Great art by Francesco Trifogli highlights this tale, and his pencils are exceptional to say the least. He does a fantastic job expressing the emotions of the characters in the book, should they be in repose or fighting for their lives in the underground NORAD base and for those panels and pages that have no dialogue, he really delivers. His creature designs work really well, from the Ligons to the troll to the frankly, scary patchwork humans and compliments Edginton’s story perfectly.
There is not really anything to fault in the book except for perhaps the familiarity of some parts, perhaps due to its end of the world setting or fantastical cast. But other than that, the book is completely engaging and a joy to read. If the ending is anything to go by, then the story looks to be headed into some exciting directions. Good job on Vertigo for deciding to put this out, and hopefully the book will find enough of an audience to keep going for many years to come.
4.5 out of 5