The first issue of By the Horns was so good I went to my local comic book store and bought a physical copy. I usually do not venture into the lesser-known publishers when looking for comics, but this one grabbed my interest due to the unique concept. Minor spoilers for the first issue of By the Horns ahead!
The newest comic from Scout Comics, By the Horns follows Elodie, a monster slayer that hates unicorns. The reason for her hatred is sprinkled throughout the issue, but most of the details will likely be expanded on in future issues. For now, all readers need to know is she will do anything to have her sword taste unicorn blood. Her obsession over slaying, not just unicorns, but any monster with a horn, has led Elodie to be alienated from the rest of the villagers of Wayfarer. Armed with her sword and Star Wars-style laser gun, Elodie sets out to quench her thirst for revenge with her half-deer/half-wolf companion, Sajen.
The world of By the Horns is a blend of Chronicles of Narnia-style fantasy with the science fiction elements of Star Wars or Cowboy Bebop. This is a world with Red Panda shopkeepers, Dragon Whales and technology you could only dream of. Creators Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr balance the two potentially conflicting genres incredibly well, creating a fantasy-western with science fiction elements. I can tell that the two had an insanely fun time creating the many creatures displayed in the pages of this first issue. Seeing Elodie react to the world around her is easily the biggest draw of this book, and I am interested to see how Naso brings out the inner turmoil (that was teased in this issue) in the future.
Muhr’s artwork, coupled with Andrei Tabacaru’s colors, bring a vibrancy to this fantasy world, while contrasting it with the dark imagery of Elodie standing over the corpse of a freshly slain unicorn. Everything from the designs of the townspeople, to the use of lighting gives off a warm feeling, which greatly contrasts with the coldness inside of Elodie. The simple premise makes the interesting twists and turns the story takes feel fresh compared to other fantasy works. The blend of whimsy and seriousness reminds me greatly of the tone of Aneko Yusagi’s The Rising of the Shield Hero, a feeling I’ve never gotten from Western comics.
The first issue of By the Horns has left quite the impression on me. It is gonna be painful to wait until May for the second issue due to how intriguing this debut was. I am excited to see where the creative team takes Elodie over the course of the series and am anxiously awaiting the next chapter in her journey. By the Horns is available at your local comic book store or you can buy it from the link below.