Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
“We have to do something! This time you can’t just curl up and play dead!” –Zolin, Captain of the [Possum] Guard.
Writers: Sebastian Kadlecik, John Bring, and Lindsay Calhoon Bring
Illustrators: Sebastian Kadlecik and John Bring
Penguins vs. Possums is a refreshing take on an interspecies war that has begun since the dawn of time. The opening quote I presented best sums up the conflicting tone of the narrative, and why I can’t get enough of either penguins or possums! The story is an excellent balance between gravity and humor, topped with a sprinkle of awesomeness. Let me tell you why.
First off, it’s about a warring feud between penguins and possums. That concept alone is ridiculously random and fun, and would peak just about anyone’s curiosity. However, the real fun is being immersed in the world of two distinct species and seeing their conflict from both sides without much human interference. This perspective taking allows for puns, common sayings, and references to work wonders on the reader. For example, “playing possum” refers to feigning death, but the possums in the story use it as a military tactic. While it’s portrayed as a serious action by the possums—even determining life or death—it’s also quite amusing.
Another example is how humans have viewed penguins as adorable, chubby, and harmless. In reality, penguins are vicious and the possums believe the penguins have the humans fooled. It is situations like these that will have the reader happily smirking and feeling awful all at the same time because their interspecies war is no laughing matter: Many penguins and possums have died!
Let us now dive deeper into the story without spoiling too much of the plot. Penguins vs. Possums opens up with a dramatic prologue that introduces the war and emphasizes how humans will be forced to choose a side. It’s humorous and ominous because readers won’t realize how true that statement will become until they’ve read the whole volume. It is not a simple black and white choice. The war is morally complicated, which makes Penguins vs. Possums stand out from being a two-dimensional story.
For the most part, the origin of their conflict is unknown. The story begins with both the penguins and possums taking turns doing sneak attacks that end in bloody massacres. On the penguin side, you have Xiao, the son of the emperor penguin who is determined to lead his fellow penguins to victory in the annihilation of all possums. There is much for Xiao to prove, such as honoring his father’s memory and demonstrating his worth to his people. While there are other interesting penguins in the mix, they’re so far used as plot devices for Xiao to develop as a character. Interestingly enough, there are also problems within the penguin population caused by the monarchy.
On the possum side, there is The Chosen. In a prophecy, it is said he will be the one to conquer the penguins. Being a farmer, The Chosen refuses to believe the prophecy is true. However, the turn of events will have him questioning his destiny. Alongside The Chosen is Zolin, his best friend and brother-in-law. Whereas The Chosen is a kindhearted farmer who seeks peace over violence, Zolin is the captain of the guard and thirsts for battle. Their clashing personalities will play a crucial role in the war at large.
As a whole, Penguins vs. Possums: Volume One is an exciting story from start to finish. The art is in black and white, emphasizing the moral ambiguity and struggle experienced by all the characters. Together, the detailed story and art produce a compelling undertone that will have you asking for more.
A great war is brewing and soon every human will be forced to choose a side. Which will you choose? I never thought I’d say this, but I’m rooting for the possums!
5.0 out of 5.0
Author: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor
Laura is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently resides in Southern California. She drinks too much milk tea, talks too much about Green Lantern, and would marry Barry Allen if he were real.