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Earthdivers #9 Review

4 min read
What started as a mission to find her missing twins in the Arizona desert in the year 2112 has landed Tawny in Ice Age Florida!

“Ice Age: Strong Enough Medicine”

Creative Staff:
Story: Stephen Graham Jones
Art: Riccardo Burchielli
Colors: Joana Lafuente
Letterer: Steve Wands

What They Say:
New York Times best-selling author Stephen Graham Jones and guest artist Riccardo Burchielli conclude their three-part Earthdivers Ice Age adventure! Tawny’s attempt to outsmart her Solutrean captors with a silent weapon from the future could still pay off, but the chief’s latest decree means she won’t be around to find out. Bound and boarded onto a skin boat headed across ice floes and frigid seas, she has one last, unlikely shot at getting out of this alive: SHARKS. Giant, ravenous, prehistoric sharks.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With a good bit of interest in this when this series was announced and a strong first issue that teased a lot of its potential, Earthdivers is definitely worth spending some time with, though I’ve had some minor struggles with it at times as a monthly. I can totally see this being a much more engaging read in trade form. Stephen Graham Jones definitely has a great hold on the structure of this story here and you can see how it can run for some time and play with some unintended consequences in all directions, all while being really strong with its dialogue and intent. Riccardo Burchielli steps in for this issue to do the artwork and with it part of a new storyline that’s not a bad thing. They capture the look of this period well, especially with Lafuente’s color design for all of it, and the rich details and strong layouts make it thoroughly engaging to watch as we see our lead just trying to survive and cope with the situation.

With this installment wrapping up this storyline twenty-thousand years in the past, it unfolds pretty well and leaves a small but largely unnoticed mark for the future. Which is how it should be, all things told. Tawny’s time in the past is a hard struggle as she tries to figure out her place in it in order to survive while lamenting her inability to do what she can to save anyone. She’s in that do no harm mindset but survival causes harm. She’s not fitting in with the group that she’s with in a lot of ways and it’s amusing to see how they send her out to do the hunt in modern-day France since she was successful before but still untrusted. I do love the nod that the push to get to where Europe is isn’t easy but it’s not the hardship that it’ll be in the future when the ice is gone and the seas are vastly different. There are still threats to be had, however, and we see how badly it goes and how she manages to survive and return to the land.

A lot of the back half of this is just watching as Tawney essentially winds down and finds a path for survival in this past. It’s hard and rough but we see her using some of her knowledge as a 21st-century human in order to help some of those she’s with survive some of the illness that comes from her being there. It’s well-presented and illustrated so that it has a lot of tension but I keep coming back to the larger problem of the storyline of never feeling connected to Tawney and this story because the previous storyline mangled its presentation so much that I lost track of who is who. But getting the montage style approach toward the end of how things went forward and leaning into the near-future present of the story itself works well and helps to bind things together properly.

In Summary:
Earthdivers has a pretty solid issue here overall and I do wonder if it’ll read better in full – and if the first storyline will as well – compared to monthly. Tawney’s story is handled well here and it has the right kind of bleakness to it both in the script and the artwork. I love the look of everything and the color design of it is just fantastic across the board. It’s a good and haunting tale in the Twilight Zone vein in all the right ways and it just makes me lament all the more that I wasn’t able to connect with it as strong for all the various reasons from before. It’s definitely worth following though and the book leaves me curious as to what’s next.

Grade: B-

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: IDW Publishing
Release Date: August 23rd, 2023
MSRP: $3.99