By Vita Ayala, Emily Pearson, Marissa Louise, Jim Campbell
The Wilds #2, from Black Mask, continues the post-apocalyptic, plant-zombie story from Vita Ayala and Emily Pearson. This issue stands to set up more of what seems to be the plot of the arc, as well as more of the characterization from last issue. To start the issue, there’s a bit of exposition beautifully done by Ayala that sets the tone for the issue. It gives some background about the Abominations, the oddly beautiful zombie-like creatures of this universe, drawn by Emily Pearson. Her drawing style is unique from other styles on the shelves and shines best when she can get weird.
Pearson’s style itself is distinct. It’s easy to tell this book apart from others just by glancing through the pages. Her designs and figures tread between minimalism and realism in interesting ways, especially when an abomination rears its head. At times, though, Pearson’s characters can look stiff. This is most noticeable during a short action sequence and a quick overview of the compound, but the rest of the issue is stylish. When we spend time reading dialogue and can get up close to characters, these flaws go away. Each character Pearson draws has an extremely distinct look, from facial features to outfits. Equally welcome is the rainbow with which their skin tones have been colored. The Wilds #2 doesn’t make a fanfare about including diverse characters, the creators simply do it. It’s natural.
Ayala’s strengths are in their ability to write tension in dialogue. Even with characters readers aren’t acquainted with, Ayala puts stakes into each scenario. When it’s easy for readers to point out a mistake by one of the main characters, Ayala instantaneously does the job themselves. Their aware of their writing and what a reader might think of it, holding their characters accountable. On a larger scale, the main plot is still revving its engines. Ayala and Pearson are playing their cards close to the chest, leaving a few possible plotlines out in the open, with one or two immediate problems to be addressed. With that being said, though, even after an important plot point this issue, it feels insignificant because of how it was revealed. At first it felt as if there was a lack of concern, and even though dialogue proves that as false, it’s a difficult first impression to shake. At only the second issue in the series, it’s easy to see these things change over time.
The Wilds #2 has a solid leading character in Daisy Walker. As of these two first issues, she’s strongly established in design and personality as a character worth coming back to the series for. Ayala’s dialogue pulls a lot of that weight in compelling ways this issue through power dynamics, while Pearson’s physical vision of Daisy remains true to form with her tactical vest and bandana, and braided hair. If you like the post-apocalypse because of human to human interaction, The Wilds is that series.