There are a plethora of great ideas in Assailant Comics’ new anthology series, Open Tree, the best of which is the decision to make the series a genre affair. Each issue features one unique, original story, and from the looks of this first issue story, titled “Freedom Run,” and a teaser for the second issue, writer and editor Chris Carlton and his various collaborators are prepared to tackle a whole variety of genres, from westerns to nautical tales, and beyond. Focusing on stories from the realm of legends and tall tales gives Charlton carte blanche to delve into the fantastic, while still keeping his characters feet planted on the ground, rooted in a relatable reality.
The other really great idea is to make Open Tree in color, and Vasco Subral’s bright vibrant colors bring the story and setting to vivid life. Since “Freedom Run” takes place out on the open range, the pages are awash in yellow sunsets and light tans, and there is a sense of wide open spaces that is very welcoming. The only issue I have is with the dialect. As is often the case with dialect, there is a bit too much of it. The characters come across through their dialogue and the images relay the setting, and since we can see the characters and their surroundings, the setting comes through in the images and the dialect tends to act more as a distraction to the story than an addition. Brant Fowler’s lettering is solid, and his sound effects add an element of exciting immediacy to the action scenes.
“Freedom Run” is a fun fantasy story, packs its fair share of surprises, and works wonderfully with some of our most cherished western tropes. On top of that, Brian Latimer’s art has an elegant beauty to it that quickly draws you in and keeps you riveted until the final page. Likewise, Jorge Corona’s cover grabs your attention and entices you to pick up the book and find out the story behind the image. The tone moves through various levels and emotions, and there is a constant sense of a story being told, and of a sense of hope. The art is strong throughout, and, along with the colors, Open Tree could stand its ground alongside much larger independent books, anthology or otherwise. Fowler is also responsible for the design of the book, and it is a sharp, clean, thought-out design that will perfectly translate to later installments, along with Alan Javante’s logo. I am intrigued to see what kind of stories and art styles Charlton brings to the book, and I believe Open Tree has a very bright future.