What a brilliant addition this is to the subgenre of adventuring anthropomorphic animals!
In a world seemingly abandoned by humans, an alliance of suburban mice and rats finds their supplies dwindling, even as the pickings from the houses around them grow ever slimmer. All scouts sent to the closest city, meanwhile, have failed to return. Leader Orim counsels caution, but more rash elements believe that these scouts have found greener pastures, so to speak, so have abandoned the rest of them. Led by Resher, these breakaway rodents want to strike out for the city as soon as possible in order to secure the food that they’re sure is there.
Talented young scout Wix is firmly in Orim’s camp. When rumors of a food-laden truck arrive back at their base, Wix is sent with a party in search of it, the colony’s final mission for food before acquiescing to Resher’s demands. But Orim’s daughter Pict discovers that Wix’s party is being set up, so rushes to warn him. Before the two friends can return to safety, however, a hawk flies away with one of them, setting them both on an odyssey where they’ll discover that there’s so much more to the world than their safe little suburb, and that sometimes even the smallest of heroes can have the biggest impact.
I’ve tried to be as vague as possible about what happens in this book as it’s really a stunning allegory for what happens to the rest of nature when human dominance is, at least temporarily, broken. It’s a really smart book that feels rather like The Rescuers meets Watership Down: suitable for mature children but very thought-provoking for adults, too. The dialog is snappy and convincing, and the storytelling is superb. At only one point in the narrative did I have to stop and scrutinize a panel to tell what was going on, and in a 300+ page graphic novel, that is no small feat!
It helps, ofc, that Mac Smith’s art is sheer beauty. While the rodents are depicted more for cuteness than for verisimilitude, other creatures are given miens in keeping with their attitudes, with photorealism primarily reserved for some of the (important) animals that show up later in the book or for atmospheric shots. And there is a lot of atmosphere going on here. It’s hard not to be completely absorbed by the story, so perfect are the renditions that go with the mood Mr Smith seeks to evoke in each and every panel.
This graphic novel collects the first ten parts of the story (with an epilogue) and features a To Be Continued that I’m certain will have humans rearing our ugly heads again. I’m really excited to read more, whether of these creatures and this setting or from this supremely talented creator.
Scurry by Mac Smith was published February 21 2023 by Image Comics and is available from all good booksellers, including