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Graphic Novel Review – Finder: Third World

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Finder: Third World written and illustrated by Carla Speed McNeil

Finder Third World

There hasn’t been a single place that Jaeger couldn’t infiltrate, escape, or loot—until now! Award-winning creator Carla Speed McNeil and colorists Jenn Manley Lee and Bill Mudron create the very first full-color Finder graphic novel. Serialized in the pages of Dark Horse Presents, Finder: Third World now includes seventeen extra story pages and extensive annotations by McNeil!

I had Finder: Voice dropped in my lap. It was my birthday. A couple friends had been talking Finder up for awhile and finally took action when it became clear I wasn’t going to run out and buy it. As one does.

I loved Voice. I love Voice. I yield to none my love for Voice. I read it before going to bed that night and I’m still talking about it. Most fans will tell you Talisman is the best story, though.

But this isn’t about either of those. I just figured revealing my bias was warranted. I’ve read every Finder story a couple times. Voice and Talisman a few more. I had known that Third World was being serialized but had neither the habit nor the inclination to track down individual issues of Dark Horse Presents in order to get them. So I was surprised to, er, find the collected edition while visiting the library in our old neighborhood.

Like most Finder stories, you’re dropped right into the middle of a story in progress and kind of left to fend for yourself. You want desperately to know how the story came to this point but you’re swept forward through McNeil’s dense narrative. Third World follows Jaeger, an wandering sin eater and one of the perennial characters in these interwoven stories, as he tries to go legitimate. He gets a job with a common carrier and puts his unusual skills and abilities to the test trying to deliver undeliverable packages. There’s humor and pathos and longtime readers get a look at the depths and heights of the culture of the domed cities that dot this vaguely post-apocalyptic setting.

But, because it’s a single character and because it’s neither a flashback nor directly contiguous with previous stories, a new reader could begin here. Jaeger’s sense of humor and duty shines through. And, perhaps importantly to some, it’s in color. All the previous Finder volumes have been black and white. Here you get a sense of the vibrant visual world and the diversity of the cast.

There’s almost no chance of catching everything the first time through. And McNeil’s willing to reference her own work and dozens of others, along with an anthropology department’s worth of multicultural praxis. But don’t worry, there are endnotes for every page. They aren’t necessary, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to confirm everything you recognize and look up everything you don’t understand. The endnotes mean you don’t have to read with Google open.

If you like culturally advanced sauropods, creeping technological mystery, complex cultural intersection, and a bit of unexplained magic, this might be the comic for you. Finder: Third World is the first volume to really get out of the cities and show the spaces, and the peoples, in between. Carla Speed McNeil is a careful, thoughtful storyteller and a skilled artist. Check out an excerpt here.

Recommended for fans of Nam Jun Paik, Baraka, and Seveneves.

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