Jim Henson’s: The Storyteller - Tricksters # 1 (of Four)
Story by: Jonathan Rivera
Art by: Jade Zhang
Letters by: Jim Campbell
Cover by: Peach Momoko
Variant Covers by: Dani Pendergast & Peach Momoko
Sunday’s featured a bit of duality for me growing up. Mornings would feature a more structured and sacred message. But nighttime was filled with fantasy tales focused on feats and failures. If the sermon was supper, the Storyteller was desert. Indulging in Boom Studio’s latest listing in the Storyteller universe, Tricksters # 1, I expected an enjoyable treat. Then, along came a spider.
Issue # 1 has the Storyteller and his trusty companion discuss the merits of a certain invasive insect. The arachnid has the ability to cause concern and connect. The indication of it’s presence, the web, has captured many prey and particulates. Come to think of it - you’re caught on one now.
But before the internet, it was merely individuals with ideas. And as the Storyteller relates, these caught the attention of the trickster Anansi.
Deciding to detail the earliest of stories, Jonathan Rivera’s story is of, to quote the Storyteller, “our very existence.” Jade Zhang does a fantastic job detailing this epic folktale as this West African deity has no shortage of adventures to relate. Weaving together the many iterations of Anansi’s lore, Trickster # 1 explains that in humanity’s beginnings ideas were not shared. People were separated by the concept of “to each their own”. Instead, their cerebral concepts would float to the clouds. Anansi would then ensnare those figments as offerings to his father the Sky God, Nyame.
There are certainly many ways to spin this story. Rivera’s take is a mix of mischievousness and mercifulness. The first portion of Anansi’s adventure see’s a bit of a true trickster nature. Between his plan to hoard the wisdom of the world to his cunning dealings with Nyame’s tasks, Anansi is nimble in mind and action. Capturing the trio of Onni the python, Mmoboro the hornet and Mmatia the fairy of the forest would have been enough to complete this issue’s entry for me. I enjoyed Zhang’s contributions to this section the most. Each challenge illustrated with just the right amount of story elements with no panel feeling underutilized.
The weaving of Anansi’s lore creates something of a tangled web. After gaining his father’s favor, it felt the pace rushed as the tale goes to an entirely different conclusion than I expected. Tricksters # 1 witnesses Anansi’s behavior evolve from selfish to selfless. Seeing a trickster being tricky seems consistent with the solicit. Instead, I can’t help but feel the Storyteller is more appreciative of Anansi than anything else, more like Storyteller: Tribute. The choice to combine Anansi’s lore makes this issue feel a bit “preachy” - unless that was part of the trick.