Finder: Third World
The newest Finder volume is the tenth (following Finder: Voice), although that doesn’t matter, since the series is more like a set of novels with the same setting and some of the characters than a typical serialized comic series. It’s also the first in color (done by Jenn Manley Lee and Bill Mudron), which takes a little getting used to but makes the full world more substantial.
Surprisingly, it’s also a great starting point. Third World follows Jaeger as he takes a new job delivering packages for a courier service. His ability to go almost anywhere suits the position well, and the setup brings him in contact with a wide variety of character types. Carla Speed McNeil is exploring a huge diversity of her world’s settings here, as well as using the contacts to show us a lot more about who Jaeger is and what he’s afraid of. This is the most we’ve learned about the character since his introduction in Sin-Eater, the first two books of the series.
The introductory stories are short, demonstrating Jaeger’s creativity and determination, setting up the concept, reminding us of his personality, and exposing us to this civilization. I could have read several more chapters of this type, because they’re fascinating. Dark humor, creative extrapolations on a future culture, clever twists, touching or disturbing interactions, even a ghost story populate this section, before Jaeger is abandoned outside the big cities. McNeil describes her series as “anthropological science fiction”, a wonderful summation, and one that allows her to explore a huge variety of story types and characters.
That leads into the meat of the volume, where Jaeger’s background and some of the strange creatures of this world become more prominent. The final section postulates a disturbing medical world that puts him into a life-threatening cliffhanger.
McNeil’s art is astounding, full of character and action. Even when a character is sitting silent, there’s a tension and a dynamism that keeps us focused on them. She’s clearly thought through her fully realized world, as demonstrated in the extensive annotations, my favorite part of the book. Beyond the stories, beyond the fiction, there are the author’s observations on references, homages, artists I’m not familiar with (but should be), notes that add depth to the scenes, and comments on the larger world. They make every volume something to read multiple times.
I’m a tad disappointed that I’m left wondering how Jaeger’s going to survive — although I have no doubts that he will — and that’s only because I don’t know how long it will be until the next book. I’ll be eagerly awaiting it.