Review: 'Endtown 3' [and] 'Endtown 4', by Aaron Neathery
Endtown has been a black-&-white Monday-Friday webcomic since January 18, 2009. Its popularity has grown fast, and it was shortlisted for the 2011 Ursa Major Award in the Best Anthropomorphic Graphic Story category. A rave review by Bill Sherman in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (June 24, 2011) [originally on Blogcritics] began:
A snappy blend of Boy and His Dog sci-fi plus funny animal comics, Aaron Neathery's Endtown is one of the underseen gems in web comics. Originally debuting on the Modern Tales site - and more recently migrated to GoComics - the weekday series charts the travails of the beleaguered underground survivors of a mutant spawning radiation plague.
Endtown is set six years after a cataclysmic war has destroyed almost all life on Earth, leaving only a lifeless, desertlike surface and a few subterranean towns. The survivors are divided between the airtight-suited Topsiders, ruthless 100% human purists who kill other survivors on sight because they may be mutants, and the mutants and “impure” humans who try to survive in the underground enclaves. The “mutagenic plague” transformed its human victims into horrific monsters or, what makes this strip of Furry interest, anthropomorphic animals.
“Endtown 4”, by Aaron Neathery. [Introduction by Steve Gallacci.] Bellevue, WA, Jarlidium Press, July 2013, trade paperback $15.00 (131 [+3] pages).
The foregoing background is reprinted from my review of the first two volumes. These two very handsome reprint collections present the third and fourth Endtown story arcs. Volume 3 has the complete story arc ‘The Ballad of Holly and Wally’ (January 17 to November 18, 2011. Volume 4 contains ‘Countdown’ (November 21, 2011 to October 24, 2012).
Volumes 1 and 2 are a complete story in two volumes. Volume 3 introduces the cat-man Wally Wallechinsky and his mouse girlfriend, Holly Hollister, and expands what we know about the supporting denizens of the underground Endtown.
When Wally is first seen, he is a Topside drifter, wallowing in self-pity about how he used to be a man and is now half-cat, but is not ready to commit suicide by letting the 100% human Topsiders in their hermetically-sealed biosuits catch him. Wally is rescued and recruited for Endtown against his will by Allie Alvarez, a half-alligator woman. When Wally is mugged and left for dead, he is saved by Holly Hollister, a mouse waitress who gradually brings him out of his depression, convinces him to accept his new life, and helps him in a sting operation to find his mugger.
This is the first half of Volume 3. In the last half, the Endtown leaders discover that the Topsiders are preparing to launch a rocket that threatens Endtown’s existence. Captain Philomena Flask (cat-woman), the head of Endtown Security, drafts Wally into a mission Topside to destroy the rocket. Holly stows away to join them, and the two learn that the sadistic Flask has a secret agenda that may annihilate both communities. This volume ends in mid-story.
Volume 4 has the conclusion of the Topsider mission, introduces Aaron Marx, a mysterious human with apparent godlike powers in a flying boat, and has the countdown to the end of “Blackie” Flask’s story. Volumes 3 and 4 should be read as a two-part set.
Endtown is somber rather than funny or action-oriented. The Endtowners go about their lives trying to maintain their human culture despite their new bodies and instincts. The missions Topside have an air of desperation. An intriguing subplot involves Jacob Jackrabbit and his animal-man supremacy league. He demands that all Endtowners take new last names to show their pride in their new species. Anyone who keeps his or her old pre-mutant name is an enemy. More will be seen of him later. As Holly says, life goes on. This is a strip that every Furry fan should be reading on the Internet. And for those who do not want to have to click through its archive for hours, here are the paper collections.
This review may be premature. Jarlidium Press says that volumes 3 and 4 were packaged in landscape format to match the first two books, but:
Due to an unexpected cost increase for printing, we can't sell these books in this format via Amazon or our other retail partners for a cover price that anybody would reasonably pay. However, we can sell them directly, even with preorder discounts […] Only 150 copies of each volume will be printed, and 100 of those are available for preorder here. (Half of the remainder go to Aaron, and the other half will be available for sale at conventions which we attend as dealers, such as Anthrocon.)
WILL I EVER BE ABLE TO GET THEM VIA AMAZON? We are committed to making these strips available in print; we just have to work with Aaron and shop around for printers to find a format that looks good and doesn't drive the cover price through the roof. Volumes 1 and 2 are also affected by the cost increase and we will find a solution for them as well. This process will take some time, but we hope to have the retail editions of all volumes out in the Fall.
Jarlidium Press will also be at RainFurrest in September. If you can’t be at RainFurrest and you don’t want to wait for them to find a cheaper printer, contact Jarlidium Press directly about buying copies.