This volume took a while to arrive, but it was ultimately worth the wait. I thought that the first volume of “The Autumnlands” from writer Kurt Busiek and artist Benjamin Dewey was the best new Image title to debut in 2015 thanks to its impressive worldbuilding, clever twist on the “legendary hero” story, and amazing art. Dewey’s art is still amazing and Busiek clearly has a lot more to say about the world of “The Autumnlands” as dog apprentice wizard Dusty and human soldier Learoyd try to make their way back to civilization after surviving the explosion that sent them into the river at the end of the first volume. Their travels take them into the lands of some none-too-friendly goats, and some far more accommodating sheep who ask for the assistance of these two “wizards.” This is because there have been strange lights in the night sky by the mountains while the young and the old have fallen ill due to an unknown sickness. It isn’t long before Dusty and Learoyd find their way to the source of the problem, and the cause isn’t something they could’ve anticipated.
What we learn about the cause also tells us a lot more about the world of “The Autumnlands” in the process. Not to give too much away, but if you remember the old adage about how sufficiently advanced technology can appear indistinguishable from magic then you’ll be halfway there. That may seem out of place in a story that presents itself as a high-fantasy tale involving talking anthropomorphic animals, except it was already set up with what we’ve learned about Learoyd and where he came from. Toss in what we learn about the deities of the Autumnlands here and it becomes clear that Busiek has clearly thought all of this through. In light of this, my complaints are relatively minor. It feels like we’re lightly beaten with exposition in the latter half of the story, particularly after one of the gods shows up, and I was hoping to learn more about the other survivors from the previous volume after it was revealed that there’s a different kind of drama brewing with them back home. At least that bit gives me something to look forward to in the next volume, along with the continuing adventures of Dusty and Learoyd in this fascinating land.