Trees: Three Fates #1 is another excellent beginning to the celebrated Trees anthology series. Created by acclaimed writer Warren Ellis and artist Jason Howard, Trees: Three Fates #1 sets up a thrilling mystery set 10 years after the eponymous Tree-like alien constructs land in the incredibly small town of Toska, Russia. Ellis’s script seems to be intent on tying together more humanistic problems to the sci-fi setting and Howard’s expressive style adds the emotional punch. Trees: Three Fates has all of the ingredients for a sensational series.
Trees: Three Fates #1 begins 10 years after the “Tree” landing in Toska, with a mysterious murder being found at the base one of the structures. The apparent detective of Toska, Klara Voronova, whose romantic partner died in the tree landing, is tasked with solving the investigation.
Beginning this chapter with a flashback to when Klara’s partner, Sasha, died was a clever decision by Ellis, putting the seed of doubt in the readers mind about Klara. Sasha had problems; Klara did not seem without fault in the exchange, and ending it with the sudden smashing of Sasha certainly left a mark of trauma on Klara.
The town of Toska is set to be a character of its own, and Ellis’s insistence on telling the reader its extremely small population size insures that most characters in the town will be unique. Based on the limited character introductions we get in Trees: Three Fates #1, you can’t help but get a Twin Peaks vibe from the story. The characters were not as particularly hokey as in Twin Peaks, but the over-the-top dialogue from the villains in this chapter combined with the small setting set this feeling off.
The usage of the android Boris to assist in the crime scene investigation was a smart way of introducing how far humanity has come since the Trees fell 10 years ago. In the flashback, it seemed to be the present-day but the introduction of Boris gives this story an undeniably futuristic edge to it. Boris’s handlers are saying there is no electricity for the town because a goat slept on the solar panels was a humorous way to show how much these small towns struggle despite the mechanical assistance.
Jason Howard’s linework is exceptionally emotive in Trees: Three Fates #1. There is detail and clearly defined structure and composition when necessary, but when the emotions start flying, Howard cuts loose. The manner in which Klara’s face shifts from yelling at Sasha to horror was iconic. Howard overemphasized Klara’s sharper features to make her look frenzied and furious while mad but gave her softer and rounder features when Sasha died.
Dee Cunniffe’s colors do more than hold their own in conjunction with Howard’s art. Cunniffe drapes almost every scene in moody blues, grays, and forest greens. But when the excitement begins, Cunniffe gives everything an orange or bright background so the emotion pops off the page.
There is no reason to doubt Trees: Three Fates #1 to begin with. The creative team of Warren Ellis, Jason Howard, Dee Cunniffe, and Fonographiks (letters) is proven. And the team does not disappoint. Trees: Threes Fates #1 sets up a story that could be the best in the anthology.