Kin: Descent of Man
by Gary Frank (Image/Top Cow, 2001)

The art by Gary Frank is really good. The story, also by Frank, is intriguing, with the revelation that a secret society of Neanderthals survives in the Arctic and has developed a nature-based science that is in many ways superior to our own. A secret government agency sets out to steal the technology, even if it means slaughtering the remaining Neanderthals.

Three annoying factors spoiled the book for me.

The most minor irritation is Frank's use of translucent word balloons. Word balloons tend to be a solid color, usually white, which breaks up the art but makes the dialogue easy to read. The decision here, whether by Frank or some member of his art team, was to make them translucent, so the background shows through. That might have sounded good in concept, but in practice -- especially when there's a cluttered background -- it just makes the words hard to read.

Of medium importance is the Neanderthal science. Science, even in fiction, should have some grounding in reality, but Frank's version just hands us magic. And magic doesn't fit well with the plot, since you can't really "steal" someone's magic by murdering the magicians.

The big annoyance here is that Kin: Descent of Man collects a six-issue storyline that leaves you hanging. That's it. There's no sequel, no followup, nothing to let readers know how the story ends. And that is disappointing.

review by
Tom Knapp

23 May 2015

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