Writer: Damian A. Wassel & Adrian F. Wassel
Artist: Nathan C. Gooden
Story: Damian A. Wassel, Adrian Wassel, Nathan C. Gooden, & Damian A. Wassel, Jr.
Publisher: Creative Mind Energy
I believe in the phenomenon of “speciesism.” What that word refers to is a form of discrimination based upon one’s species. In short, humans view other species, their home, and their development as secondary when it relates to our comfort. The idea of “speciesism” has been a much explored one in academic circles, and its influence can be seen with the new title The Gifted. Although it has a good strong premise, brilliant artwork, and a good tone and pace, it is not without its blemishes, but will nonetheless be added as a must-read to the animal rights/lovers/liberationist library.
The manner in which the concept of speciesism is attacked in this story is its comment that humans do not have to be the dominant species on Earth. Due to our failures we can easily lose our position (“The Gift”), and another being much more fit would take our place. What makes a being more fit? The story would have you understand that the wolf character is more fit, because he learns to work with the different species around him.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world. In what might be a comment of sorts on humanity having squandered their position as the dominant species on the earth, they are reduced to scavengers. The many creatures of the world are also staying alive through the scraps they are able to find. This is a brilliant premise. We do not know what the future holds, and species come and go, so here we find a saga showing the struggle for primacy between species.
Although the story’s premise is thoroughly brilliant, one problem some might have is that the wolf is said to gain consciousness, implying that the wolf was not self-aware before the story began. I feel this is a departure from the generally pro-animals’-rights theme of the story, and represents an implicit agreement with the “speciest” ideology the story seems to critique. A better way of setting up the story’s dynamic might be to say that the wolf has always been self-conscious, but is now fighting a war to claim dominance over humanity.
After that, there really is no fault in the art. It is majestic, screaming out the raw emotions that one would feel in such a setting. The pace of the art is poetic. The kind of literature that should be read with a metronome pulsating in the background; the intensity level rising and falling with the breath of the reader. The art is the language used, and it fits more words than any text could have.
So if you’ve ever read Goddess from Vertigo Comics, and if you’ve been following the Liberator series, you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy of this title as it moves forward with the promise of exploring its world in even more depth. The story has just begun, but it’s begun strong.