The Hunger and the Dusk #2 – Comic Review

The first issue of IDW‘s new fantasy series The Hunger and the Dusk introduced readers to a dark and dangerous fantasy world, one where humans and orcs have been at war for generations, and where raiding parties and armies would clash so often that the animosity and hatred for the other race was baked into each culture. But when a new threat emerges from the pages of myth and legend, those hatreds have to be put aside if both races are to survive. As such, a ground-breaking alliance was made, and an orc healer travelled to the human kingdoms to learn from them and form a bond of friendship.

The second issue picks up shortly after this, with Tara, the orc healer, trying to find her place within The Last Men Standing, a group of warriors and heroes who travel the land. Tara and the team’s leader, Callum, have already begun to form a friendship (and I think a few ships have been born about them already) but she feels like she’s too distant from the others. This gives the reader an easy insight into the other key members of the group, as Callum gives both us and Tara a quick intro to several members of the group. Unfortunately, the new team are soon tested when they come under attack from the savage Vangol.

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Meanwhile, the orcs are continuing to form alliances and strengthen their own nations, with Troth Icemane (Tara’s cousin) marrying Faran Stoneback in an attempt to unite the two most powerful orc dynasties. But orc wedding’s aren’t simple affairs, and the two of them set out into the cold, snowy wilderness on a hunt that will either bring them honour and a united nation, or a grim and painful death.

One of the things that G. Willow Wilson did so well in the first issue was to create a world that felt easy to slip into. Writing for characters and worlds that are already established with readers can be a lot easier than creating a whole new setting, especially one with tons of history, but Wilson is doing a fantastic job at easing us into things. The first issue set up the threat, and the basic structures of the human and orc nations, whilst this issue gives us more insight into how the orc culture works through the wedding ceremony. Meanwhile, we get a very natural insight into how the humans of this world work via Callum and his troops. Small snatches of dialogue and tiny insights slowly build a larger picture.

This world building and the character moments are also well balanced with the action, with both of the storylines getting moments of action. The action in the book is something that I’ve come to really like even over just two issues. Things feel very visceral and dangerous, and there’s blood flying all over the place, yet things never feel like they’re gratuitous or gory just for the sake of it. The art works in such a way that it tries to draw your attention away from the worst parts of the violence, such as having a character in the background shouting an order to others, whilst someone is being beheaded in the foreground. The careful placement of the important characters and dialogue keeps your focus off the severed heads and pools of blood without omitting them completely, and it’s a wonderfully executed trick.

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Speaking of the art, much like in the last issue review I have to spend some time gushing about how amazing the art on this book is. Every character looks unique and interesting, with fun designs and little quirks that make them instantly identifiable, and makes them able to stand out in a crowd. The environments look gorgeous, and the moments of action are all dynamic and filled with movement and energy, but also the smaller moments where characters are just talking keep your attention thanks to the emotions conveyed on their faces and the depth of personality on display.

The Hunger and the Dusk seems to have managed to keep up the quality of the first issue, showing that it wasn’t just a strong start for the series, but hopefully an indication of how good the entire thing is going to be. With ten more issues to go I’m already slightly sad that it’s not going to be a longer and ongoing, because if the book continues on like this it’s easily going to be one of the best comics of 2023.

The Hunger and the Dusk is out on 30th August from IDW Publishing.

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