THIS REVIEW OF ‘THESE SAVAGE SHORES’ #5 IS SPOILER-FREE.
by Sara Mitchell. “Tell me, Bishan, how were you made?” A tear rolls down my cheek as I sit here, despondent, in my favorite reading corner. A tear that, by the time it nears my lips, is turned onto a new course as it reaches the creases of a freshly growing smile.
I’ve written about These Savage Shores before and still struggle to this day to put my experiences with it into words. Which is what I’m here for, right? To take something I’ve experienced and put it into words. That’s why you came here. But These Savage Shores is as elusive as the wind that is somehow always blowing through Kori’s hair. It’s ethereal. It makes me listen to “Hallelujah” over and over again. It is pure emotion perfectly translated into words and shapes and colors and, even more remarkably, a story.
These Savage Shores is a love letter to sadness and beauty. It forces us to accept them as one and the same. It is a story of eternal identity—of the names and places that live forever, and the ones that will forever be forgotten. A story of our connections to each other, and the time that relentlessly slips through our fingers. Finer than dust, and even finer than the wayward breeze that brushes the dust away.
It hardly seems to be the work of four separate collaborators, rather an ancient entity that has possessed four artists and demanded to be recorded, speaking through Ram, Kumar, Astone, and Bidikar all at once, seamlessly putting itself on the page. In this sentiment, I by no means intend to dismiss the actual people, most likely not possessed by any external beings, that created this story. Rather applaud the fact that it is so incredibly difficult to accomplish what they have pulled off, that it’s magical.
Sumit Kumar and Vittorio Astone have illustrated and colored, respectively, a world entirely of its own. From the details in an outfit, to the violence of a fight, to the elaborate architecture and vast landscapes. It is endlessly environmental. You can feel the air on every page. You know if it’s warm, or still, or dewy, or charged with electricity. Astone speaks truth with his work. Not a single color is wasted. Every drop tells a story within itself, with its own sense of urgency and romance. Aditya Bidikar weaves Ram V’s words elegantly into the fabric, teaching us about the voice and character of each speaker along the way, leaving me nostalgic for the days of letter writing. And then there’s writer Ram V, who transcends narrative and has created what feels like a personal prayer.
At its core, amidst all of the violence and destruction, These Savage Shores is about creation. The recurring question is, “how were you made?” It’s the first line in the entire series. Kori asks Bishan over and over again, as if she were every new face that Bishan had ever met or will meet again in his eternal life. And he tells the circumstances of his making over and over again. But what we come to learn in this final installment of the series is that your identity isn’t in the circumstances of how you were made, or who made you, but in the choices you make from then on. These Savage Shores is about making choices that create your identity despite the fact that the circumstances you think define you feel overwhelming. About making choices even bolder despite the fact that you will one day be forgotten, like dust brushed away by the wind.
I want you to read These Savage Shores. I want you to feel what it feels. To get lost and be found in a new clarity. To face down eternity, and the echoes of yourself that will outlast you momentarily but surely fade away, and still make choices that define you. Let it humble you, strip you bare, take what you have, and then allow yourself to fill up again, with the colors, the breeze, and the integrity within These Savage Shores. And you will know then that this is how you are made, over and over again.
Vault Comics / $3.99
Written by Ram V.
Art by Sumit Kumar.
Colors by Vittorio Astone.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar.
9 out of 10