Filed under: Image Comics | Tags: Aneurin Wright, Dian Fossey, Eye for an eye, Gorillas in the Mist, Image Comics
At 2011’s Thought Bubble in Leeds I was able to calm my nerves, control the urge to pee myself with excitement and make my way round some of the smaller stalls at the Comic Con…..and I discovered ‘Lex Talionis : A Jungle Tale’ written and drawn by Aneurin Wright.
I’d actually spoken to Aneurin earlier in the year at the Kapow! Comic con in London, difference this time for me, was that I was aiming to get my hands on a broader range of work and review it for the Blog…..something which I hope to do with this and more of the small press issues that are available.
Now Lex Talionis starts off on an African Safari on the Rwanda/Congo border in August 1985 with a group and its guides searching for a sight of some Gorilla’s. Our main guide, John is telling his theory on the Dian Fossey’s unsolved murder (Sigourney Weaver played her in Gorillas in the Mist) when they stop and get out of the jeeps for a closer look…..they get an unexpected visitor in the shape of a Gorilla. This Gorilla seems to attack the party unprovoked and John pays the price with his life.
We flash forward a month from this brutal scene to a bar where two friends are sitting mulling over what happened to poor John but this is where the story takes a turn. We get to know a bit more of John’s shady background, his involvement in poaching and a particularly brutal attack on some Gorilla’s. We are gifted to a flashback of the poaching incident in question and there’s a back n forth between the two old guides/friends of Johns.
Only near the end do we find out the meaning of Lex Talionis, a latin phrase that pretty much amounts to an ‘eye for an eye’ and the realization that we’ve just been given a morality tale in comic book form. This was paced slightly different than I first expected….and it’s only once I read the whole thing that I understand why. Truth is, from that cover I was expecting a man vs animal tale……and that IS what I got….I just ended up cheering for the animal in this case.
The writing is subtle and there’s not a vast amount of story to this one-shot…..at least that’s how it appears on the surface…….if you take a look back through it…..there’s not a lot of speech or narrative in the issue….but the art is so strong that it can tell a story with an angled shot of a gun being fired or the charging of a gorilla spread across it’s panoramic pages. It’s actually the mix of panoramic pages and probably only about 4 of 5 colours that helps this stand out as storytelling through visuals as much as the words on the page.
For a title released through image….I’d have expected me to have read this sooner…..but it seems to have retained the small-press feel to it. It could be that on its release in 2004 I wasn’t as open to the world outside DC/Marvel as I am now. Nevertheless, this was a welcome gear change in the world of colour-explosions and spandex.
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