The Hunger and The Dusk #2, G. Willow Wilson and Christian Wildgoose’s fantasy romance hits giant heights but feels overstuffed.
This July, G. Willow Wilson, and Christian Wildgoose presented an absolutely phenomenal first issue of their fantasy romance The Hunger and The Dusk, and after a very long (and hot) month-long wait, are back with #2. With this new issue comes new characters, and more of the same superb writing and art from last month’s issue, but it also introduces a glaring problem.
Classic adventurers with a fresh twist
First things first though, Wilson’s writing and Wildgoose’s art are truly just as strong as last month’s issue. While this issue doesn’t give the latter nearly as much time to show his finesse in drawing a battle, he does get to show off a myriad of new designs. The Last Men’s roster got a much-needed expansion this issue, and each of Wilson’s concepts and Wildgoose’s designs hit a classic D&D party trope without feeling unoriginal. There’s the age-old warrior of course, but he’s a bowman, not a man of the blade. The barbarian, but she’s heavily armored. And the rogue with a history of unspeakable deeds is an eccentric old man. When put in tandem with our orc healer, only Cal, the human fighter, resembles the stock D&D format (not to say he’s boring of course).
A really good side quest, but it comes at a cost
After the events of the previous issue, with the Last Men venturing forth while Troth prepared to be wed, it’s only natural that this issue explores that further. And this is a major splitting point for me. Their wedding hunt (an orc tradition between a bride and groom’s marriage) is a wonderfully written intermission. It’s intimate and develops Troth and Lady Faran both as individuals and a pair quite a large amount in only 10 pages. But that’s just it, this side story consumes nearly half the issue, and leaves Wilson scrambling to progress the main plot forward with the time she has left.
The session ended a little too suddenly
After delivering the great side plot, the narrative returns to its core; Cal, Tara, and the Last Men. The focal two’s backstories are given further depth here, with Cal’s having a unique sense of tragedy that separates him from the archetypal “human fighter” he often resembles. Tara, gets similar treatment as well, growing their romance through a similar, but critically different tragedy, a classic technique but one executed brilliantly. But after this comes the issue’s largest…issue. The ending. To refrain from spoiling it, it hinges on a battle that is too brief and feels too sudden, before ending on a cliffhanger that feels unearned. I couldn’t help but think these problems wouldn’t exist if fewer pages were allotted to the side plot, even given how high quality that side plot was. It ends an otherwise great issue on a rather sour note.
The Hunger and The Dusk #2 verdict
While I found the ending disappointing, the rest of this month’s entry presents more of everything I loved from its debut. The writing is clever, with a great romance, and the art brings it all to life effortlessly. The pacing dragged it down a bit, but the characters are so enjoyable that they more than make up for it.
Grade: B+/A-, I can’t decide.
The Hunger and The Dusk #2 from IDW Publishing is available now.
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