Illustrated by David Yardin (Aria, Wicked), Realm of the Claw continues to set a high mark for sheer visual indulgence in the comic world. Lush jungles teem with life, and one swears they can even smell the spray of the waterfalls. Guided by Stan Winston's legendary vision and scribed by the practiced hand of Francis Takenaga (Trakk,, Wicked, Wetworks), Realm of the Claw continues to deliver Hollywood-style entertainment in a 32-page package.

Louden Reed defines luxury. His family's multi-million dollar industrial firm flourished into a multi-billion dollar juggernaut under his ruthless guidance. His life, lavish. His tastes, exquisite. His favorite pastime, hunting endangered species for sport. Harrison, his adopted brother, came from humbler beginnings and has dedicated his life to protecting the animals of the world from men like Louden. Unbeknownst to either man, eighteen lifetimes have been shared between them, and a long-forgotten exile is about to come to an end. "Home" does not mean New York, where they live. Home lies in the unexplored wilds of Umbwandi…and is also known as THE REALM OF THE CLAW.

The call of the wild takes Louden into the deepest, most sacred jungles of Umbwandi. Places said to be haunted by spirits, and guarded by things far deadlier than mere fairy tales. His instinct is to kill, and it is this instinct which has brought him to the edge of civilization itself. A no man's land. Meanwhile, an emissary of the Realm has been sent forth to return the more timid of Nakuru's sons. The messenger's name? Kaela. And she has the power to kill with far more than her womanly charms! Harrison's first battle will likely be against his own natural instincts...

Stan Winston's REALM OF THE CLAW #1

Writers: Stan Winston & Francis Takenaga
Art: David Yardin
Image Comics
3 outta 5 stars

Stan Winston is one of the coolest guys around, with an amazing body of work achieved in special effects, make-up, and artistry displayed with dazzling effect in films such as The Terminator, Predator, and Aliens. Because of this, it has been with great interest I have been wanting to check out Realm of the Claw, his newest book. Featuring amazing art by David Yardin, Realm is a decent starting point to show Winston's chops.

Set in the present, Zoo keeper and animal rights activist Harrison Reed has an uncanny ability to interact with the creatures he cares for. Showing no fear, the animals have an unnatural respect for him, and he seems to prefer their company to the ignorance he sees in his fellow man. The other side of the coin is Harrison's adoptive brother Loudon, a rich swinger with no compunction to hunt and kill whatever animal he sees. Living the high life, Loudon and his brother could be no different, bound only by the mother they both adored.

Winston and writer Francis Takenaga also give a back story to the dawn of the cat gods and the history of their rise and fall. How the cats fit in with Harrison and Loudon is still a mystery at the end of the first issue, but it is evident that Takenaga and Winston want it that way. Giving the readers enough to be intrigued, but leaving enough of a trail of crumbs to keep them coming back is the name of the game here.

Yardin's art is as delicate and beautiful as it was on the Aria mini-series he drew. With incredible detail and a more fine approach to the work, his art is a visual treat. Colorist Edgar Tadeo does a great job of protecting the art with more muted colors and an amazing pastel palette that gives the book a more realistic feel. Artwise this book is an A+ with me.

Winston's Realm of the Claw is an intriguing new book from Image. Given two opposing characters with a common thread and filled with gorgeous art, the book is a compelling read. While it isn't necessarily a ground breaking tale, it is an interesting one, with potential for action and danger sure to keep the reader intrigued for issues to come. Fans of Winston's film work should give this book a try to see what the master can do on the small screen medium of comics.

-- Heidi

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