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‘Finder: Third World’ – Advance TPB Review

“Look at these cool, old, crumbly buildings!  I know, I’m a hick.  I’m easily impressed by old buildings.  But, I love how the old buildings are huddled up between the skyscrapers . . . and the skyscrapers, now that they have no sky, are mostly bases for big, multi-use mountains that go up, floor after floor of glass and sparkle.  Shops and apartments and warehouse and every other damned thing.  Amazing.  They just go up and up.”

“If only time travel were so easy.”

“We’re all time travelers if we live long enough.”

In Finder: Third World, Carla Speed McNeil’s lonely mystic vagabond Jaeger Ayers has come back to civilization after his long and often psychedelic journeys through this urban aboriginal dream-time world.  As a “Finder,” a member of secret society of unnaturally skilled tracker-hunters, he’s held many jobs from killer to gigolo to soldier.  But, with his return to society, he takes on his most dangerous and well-suited job yet:  Delivery boy for X-Ray’s Couriers.  Their motto?  “We’ll get through.”

With his innate skill set, Jaeger quickly becomes the darling of the agency, which specializes in deliveries both natural and otherworldly, making impossible delivery after impossible delivery.  And, in this spiraling, gargantuan metropolis, anything can be delivered for a price.

“Last night, I dreamed I was a citizen of Nowhere.  And, in the dream, I was mysteriously deposited into a town I knew nothing about, with no money, no family, no friends  — only to find that my job had followed me, like an elderly, smelly, but very loyal dog!”

“Imagine my shock when I woke up to find that I AM a citizen of nowhere, in a town I don’t know, with no money and no friends, but look, my job DID follow me like a smelly, old dog.”

Originally told in the pages of Dark Horse Presents, Finder: Third World consists of three interlocking tales, following the enigmatic and long-lived Jaeger through his deliveries.  Bound to help any and all who ask, his job takes him far out of the city and into the Third World itself, a realm of unaligned territories that recognize no allegiance to the city-states that surround them.

It’s here that McNeil’s story truly shines.  Out in the world where anything can happen, we’re treated to a dream-like vision in which we can’t ever truly be sure if what we’re seeing is really happening or coming out of Jaeger’s mind.  And, with such a multi-faceted, long-lived character, that may be more the case, with flying leviathans, bloody sin-eating ceremonies, and a chance run-in with two young threshers on a wheat galleon in the vast fields.  Anything is fair game in this world, and to go into detail would only spoil the lush surprise in the sweeping work.

A famous writer once said that trying to explain a story is like pinning a butterfly to a board.  Yes, it’s still there, but all the life has gone out of it.  Trying to effectively summarize the arc of this story would only leave you confused and rob you of the pleasure of experiencing it first-hand.

Finder has always walked a fine line between simple storytelling and dream-like musings with an aboriginal flavor, and this volume follows that set-up nicely.  Where it does deviate into a new realm is the use of color.  After 9 or so collections in McNeil’s nicely stylized black and white, she’s moved to color, aided nicely by the talents of Jenn Manley Lee and Bill Mudron. Their colors nicely underscore the tale McNeil weaves here, without overwhelming, even in the most psychedelic of circumstances, either in dreamstate or the wet-wire internet world of the cities.

The Finder series has never been an easy read to just leap into, but for readers willing to put in the effort, they’ll be well rewarded by the epic scope of McNeil’s (and Jaeger’s) ongoing journey and the new introduction of color to an already stimulating work.  She also includes footnotes fleshing out her tale and providing additional details to look into (once you finish reading the other volumes, of course!).

Verdict:  FOUR-AND-A-HALF Dream-laden Walkabouts out of Five


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