Sengi and Tembo #1 Review: A Thoughtful Shift in Perspective Invites Readers on a Wild New Journey

Comic Reviews - Sengi and Tembo #1
(Photo: Scout Comics)

Scout Comics is moving into all-ages comics with its Scoot! imprint and an affordable glimpse at the upcoming original volume Sengi and Tembo. The first issue provides readers the first 24 pages of the tale for only $1.99—a longer story and lower price than almost anything else debuting in comic book stores today. That story is accessible to comics fans of any stripe, too, telling the story of Sengi, a young mouse, and Tembo, an elderly elephant, journeying together across African grasslands. Whether it's read as a preview or first issue, Sengi and Tembo is an impressive debut offering readers compelling artwork, unique perspectives, and a story that already possesses a timeless appeal.

Falco succeeds from the very start by avoiding the easy appeal of anthropomorphization. All of the animals presented in Sengi and Tembo possess human language and communicate with one another, but they behave as their animal selves. The change in language provides a folktale quality to the story without the approach devolving into something twee. Almost every action on the page—a mouse maintaining its small path in the grass, elephant herds caring for their vulnerable, predators predating—resembles an action taken in nature. Language is a tool used to clarify their actions and relationships without fundamentally altering the nature of these many creatures.

Sengi and Tembo #1 Review - Tembo
(Photo: Scout Comics)

This approach provides each character, even those who only occupy a handful of pages, with their own unique perspective. The most obvious contrast comes between the titular duo with the tiny mouse seeing and focusing upon elements that lie outside of an elephant's purview. These shifts are portrayed to readers as well with panels focusing on Tembo looking down across the plains, while Sengi's actions occur with long blades of grass waving overhead. Readers are brought to appreciate and understand the unique concerns that drive these animal's lives in their natural habitat. The early relationships are every bit as real with the genuine compassion and empathy exhibited by elephants reflected in the herd's interactions, along with other examples like the relationship between predators and carrion eaters. Sengi and Tembo honors the natural world and finds rewards in embracing these other species for who they are, rather than attempting to make them more human.

Falco's presentation of their physical forms are every bit as appealing. Each animal is bound to its natural appearance and behavior; there's no need to warp their posture or expressions in order to empathize with their lives. Instead, Falco emphasizes the manifold actions and reactions that comprise even a few minutes in an animal's life along with their natural anatomy to develop complete characters with unique needs and perspectives. The simple use of Tembo's trunk in multiple sequences showcases how compelling the very real life of these beautiful creatures can be. Falco enhances this with a keen eye for framing moments and a color palette that infuses every living thing on the page with life. His vision of sprawling grasslands is rife with possibilities in an autumnal hue.

Sengi and Tembo #1 Review - Sengi
(Photo: Scout Comics)

It's rare to find this much value in a debut issue, and Sengi and Tembo #1 makes a compelling case for the upcoming original volume to be published by Scout Comics. Even the earliest threads of this story featuring the unlikely partnership between a world weary elephant and innocent young mouse provide a universal and timeless quality—as most folklore does. That potential is enhanced tremendously by cartoonist Guiseppe Falco's keen eye for the natural world. He honors these creatures' natural appearances, behaviors, and personalities, which serves to make Sengi and Tembo a far more beautiful tale in both concept and appearance. Both comics veterans and young readers are bound to find a great deal of value in this story filled with contrasts far beyond the controlling eye of mankind.

Published by Scout Comics

On January 6, 2021

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Created by Guiseppe Falco