SCRIPT – KEVIN GUNSTONE
ART – SLOBODAN JOVANOVIC
Although I’ve found myself moving away from the superhero-driven titles of the Big Two, I still find that most comics I consume are from the major US publishers. I rarely dip my toe into the indie comics waters, in the US, or here in the UK. So, when Kevin Gunstone, writer of ‘Future Primitive’ got in touch with me regarding his new book from publisher Markosia, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Thankfully, mythology heavy sci-fi stories are my kind of thing.
Set on Pangea in Earth’s distant past or future (it is never revealed which) the story follows Kulkan, warrior king of a technologically advanced Neanderthal people who worship the sun. Kulkan must protect his people from the brutal moon worshiping Australopiths.
This first volume focuses a lot on world-building. Gunstone and artist, Slobodan Jovanovic, have put a lot of time and effort into this world-building. They have created peoples, cities, languages, and religions. This world-building, thankfully, does not come in the form of info dumps and dull exposition. Gunstone and Jovanovic drop us straight into their world. As it would be in reality, if one found themselves a stranger in a strange land, it would be overwhelming. There is no hand holding and the complex world we find ourselves in is not explained or revealed. As the story progresses, names, places, words, technology, myths, and legends all start to connect. Everything that came before, begins to fall into place. By the end of this first volume, we are aware that we have only glimpsed a small fraction of this world and its peoples.
Jovanovic does great work, not only on the world-building, but also in the storytelling. The Neanderthals risk looking too similar due to their ape-like features and dark hair, yet Jovanovic ensures that the key characters stand out. Be it antagonist Mangal’s blonde hair or the unique weapons and armour of Kulkan and his ally Xotol. Jovanovic also does a great job with the character moments such as conveying Kulkan’s doubts and worries. It’s also to Gunstone’s credit that Kulkan is not some unstoppable warrior. He is hurt, questions his role and his beliefs and, by the end of this volume, he is some way from any sort of victory.
So if a sci-fi, fantasy story, featuring ingredients as varied as Aztec inspired mythology (maybe Incan or Mayan – I should brush up on my central and south American mythology), Chariots of the Gods and Conan, as well as a pinch of the best bits of Stargate and Planet of the Apes sounds like your thing, then Future Primitive may well be the comic for you.
Thanks to Kevin Gunstone (@KevinGunstone) for sending me a copy of this book to review.