The first issue of Scout Comics’ By the Horns introduced readers to a fantastical world and an understandable, albeit tough as nails, protagonist in Elodie. Typically when we picture unicorns, we think of them as beautiful mysterious creatures because in most fantasy entertainment, that is how they are portrayed. By the Horns makes the genius decision to twist that idea by establishing that Elodie’s husband was killed by them. The second issue takes the elements established in the first and then forces Elodie to potentially question the way she views the world around her. Minor spoilers for the second issue ahead.
The second issue naturally begins with Elodie experiencing a nightmare of her husband’s death in what appears to be graphic detail. While this is only a small glimpse at the events discussed in the previous issue, I imagine, especially upon hearing writer Markisan Naso discuss the pain to come, a full detailing of the events might be shown in a later issue. Despite this section of the story only lasting three pages, Jason Muhr and Andrei Tabacaru’s art makes the panels the most memorable of By the Horns so far.
Naso also begins building the character arc Elodie will likely experience throughout the rest of the story, being forced to confront her own personal demons and potentially realize her judgement is skewing her vision of the world around her. That is not to say that her feelings aren’t justified. Her hatred of the unicorns give her a sense of clarity in a dark and terrifying world, even if it leaves her with an unquenchable thirst for revenge.
Luckily, Elodie’s brooding demeanor is balanced out by both Sajen and my favorite floating eyeball, Evelynn, who both balance the tone of the issue. Evelynn is a welcome edition to the story and I hope she appears in the next few issues as well because she was a delight whenever she was on the page.
The rest of the issue follows Elodie and Sajen head towards the home of the evil demon sorcerer, Futen, in hope of either learning the locations of unicorns or freeing the nearby village from his tyranny. Considering he is a demon, you can imagine which direction the conversation went. The action throughout this issue is beautifully drawn, with each panel feeling like a splash page despite their size. The way the action flows across each page gives a clear pacing for the story, while still demonstrating some creativity in their alignment. Muhr’s artwork is absolutely captivating and Tabacaru’s colors and effects only add to the spectacle on display in each page.
With a larger plot now in sight, alongside the smaller scale of Elodie’s desire for revenge against the unicorns, Naso’s vision for the story is clearer than it was after the first issue. I am interested to see what threat the other demon sorcerers pose and how Elodie deals with the two unicorns she “saved.”