The medium of comics has always been one where new legends are born and old ones gain new life. Some myths like Thor and Hercules have been retold many times, from the classroom to the cinema due to Europe’s influence on the world. Other tales are not as commercially viable, but are still given voice. Take the story of the spider Anansi, sometimes a trickster and other times a lord of knowledge. Sometimes a God (actually most times) and at times a simple family man. All of these aspects coalesce in Is’nana: The Were-Spider Vol. 1 written by Greg Anderson Eyslee, with art by Walter Ostlie and Lee Milewski.
Is’nana begins with the Spider God and his son(the eponymous Is’nana) hunting for Osebo the leopard who has possessed the body of famous musician Roger Stein and has cannibalized three people so far. The poor man is not aware if his possession as the leopard spotted rash he has continues to grow. After a clash with Is’nana we learn much about where the two Gods come from and what their being on earth entails. We also see the inkling of a larger multiverse to come, leaving endless possibilities.
I will start by saying that I was very pleasantly surprised by Is’nana. At it’s heart the story is a mythological family drama. There are interesting parallels between Anansi and Roger Stein, which in turn starkly contrast their point of origin. Stein has success in his world and it is obvious by the plethora of gold record plaques adorning his wall, however his children won’t visit him, let alone answer his calls. Conversely Anansi’s son travels with him to track down the threat from their home world, across realities no less. There is clearly a differing system of values between the two worlds, where those on Earth must sacrifice closeness of family for success, at least to some degree. In the Mother Kingdom however family and success are one in the same. Legacy is not a burden, but an honor it seems. Even criminal acts by denizens of each world hold different meaning. Osebo’s crimes seem, at least partly, based on the fear of the Mother Kingdom’s extinction. “Don’t let the world forget us.” While the act of violence in the beginning of the story seems random and senseless. There are deeper meanings at play here and It's great to see the level of attention paid to them.
The art for this book is extremely apt. Ostlie’s pencils and inks give an Africanized characteristic that lends to the telling of the story and it’s authentic feel. Milewski’s colors are the perfect combination in this case, using beautiful earth tones to color the characters and mood of the story. I once learned how lettering could influence a story’s pacing and readability, and let's give credit to Joshua Cozine for giving this the flow of a steady river, as well as making each voice distinct. Lastly, we have to talk about how dope the cover is, Walt Msonza Barna absolutely killed it!
In closing my only issue with this book is that I don’t know when Vol 2 is coming out. But you can help by donating to Vol 2’s kickstarter found here.