PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY by John Dudley and Don Cardenas
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY details an apocalypse consumed by nightmarish monsters. With a high-paced plot and brilliant heroes, PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY deserves your support during its Kickstarter Campaign.
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The fantasy genre has taken many strides in recent years. Gone are the days where swords and long-bearded wizards solely defined the genre. With fantasy’s popularity rising over the last fifty years, new writers have spun their own unique visions of magic and monsters. On Wednesday, November 1, John Dudley and Don Cardenas’ PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY, a new vision of werewolves and dragons, hits Kickstarter. This series first released in 2015, and ran for five issues. For the first time, the creators have collected this story into an action packed trade worthy of the fantasy genre.

PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY
Courtesy of Roar Comics

PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY is set on a near-future Earth after the apocalypse. One day, out of nowhere, our worst nightmares took over the world. Werewolves and dragons and other monsters tore into our world and destroyed major cities. The only safe haven lies in the Free Lands, a walled off city-state. After losing his parents during the monster invasion, Bastion was raised within the Free Lands’ walls. His obsession with the invasion eventually drags him into danger. Drafted into a team of psychic soldiers, Bastion must brave the werewolf controlled Low Country to learn the horrid truth about the planet’s fall.

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Going Bump in the Night

packs of the Low Country
Courtesy of Roar Comics

PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY does a lot of things right. The way writer John Dudley handled this little genre experiment truly impressed me. At its heart is a tale based in fantasy, in slaying monsters and taking cities back from evil tyrants. However, much of the story takes inspiration from science- and military-fiction. Mental powers replace magic. The monsters resemble our nightmares in name only. Artist Don Cardenas manages to create a wholly unique design aesthetic in this post-apocalyptic world. The dragons especially impressed, designed with beetles, proto-lifeforms, and Lovecraftian horrors in mind.

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At its heart, PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY  is meant to be a high-action thriller. On that front, Dudley never lets up. The pace immediately grips the reader, forcing them deeper into this world with every page. The pace seems a bit too overzealous during certain pages. Sometimes, interesting moments get lost, but overall, the plot truly impresses. I especially loved the evolution of the story’s antagonists. At the opening, we see the landscape of the Low Country as a tribal society terrorized by the werewolves. However, the story forces us to see that the human parties involved are not wholly innocent. This turn of events leads the reader through a twisting tapestry of intrigue and fulfilling revelations.

Bastion’s Team

Packs of the Low Country
Courtesy of Roar Comics

What makes PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY truly stand out, though, comes from the characterization. Bastion, Helena, Mark, and Dr. Beach each have their moments to shine. Bastion and Helena hoard the spotlight. We see both of these characters before the invasion, during their childhoods. Getting to see their tragedies, to see how the Invasion affects them, leads to a deep character analysis. We understand who they are as people. Dudley manages to depict these traumas in wholly separate ways. While Bastion seizes up, suffering from panic attacks, Hel distances herself from others. Both are realistic and relevant reactions, and by including these traumas, Dudley manages to detail a hard-hitting truth.

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Sadly, this characterization did not stretch to the villains. While terrifying in their potential and design, human-werewolf hybrid Baker and the tyrant Connect don’t leap off the page like the heroes. Their problems lie mostly in their motivations. Nothing seems to drive their actions. The things they do are horrifying, but without understanding why, we can’t fully connect with them (pun fully intended). They fall into the ultimate evil archetypes, and that only damages what could have been a fascinating pair of monsters.

Final Thoughts: PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY

PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY isn’t perfect. The characterization of villains Baker and the Connect fails a bit. Also, Don Cardenas’ art style may not attract all readers. While I wholly enjoyed Cardenas’ art, there were points where anatomy felt a bit muddled amidst the action. Also, throughout it has an almost cartoon feel. However, his clean linework and bold shading leads to a gritty appeal. PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY fully represents the potential of indie comics. The love and attention to detail in this story seeps off every page.

If you wish to support PACKS OF THE LOW COUNTRY through its Kickstarter Campaign, the link can be found here.

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