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Crossroads Comics #171 – Golden Shrike

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for Crossroads Comics!

This week we’re taking a look at Golden Shrike by Doeprince (they/them). This comic follows a pair of sheltered marshland deer twins as they embark on journey beyond the world they’ve always known. Runi and Nero are suddenly faced with all sorts of new characters and experiences, learning more about themselves and the world around them. But when the world begins to shift, and what was previously fiction becomes reality, it is up to the twins to track down the children of a god in order to save their newly expanded world from destruction.

This fantasy comic is extremely unique, with vast amounts of worldbuilding that the comic has really only scratched the surface of so far. From the different species of deer, such as the Marshlanders and the Northerners, to their bird companions, to the different cultures of the different animal species, there’s a lot of potential to unpack here and it’s all fascinating! Additionally, the designs for the characters are all quite interesting, with each species of deer taking inspiration from a real life species. For example, the Woodlanders are based on whitetails while the Marshlanders are based on the marsh deer; and while we haven’t seen many fielders, they appear to be based on the roe deer. There are many mixed species as well, allowing for even more unique designs, but it’s really interesting to see the inspirations behind and common traits of the “pure breeds” of each species.

Spoilers Ahead

Golden Shrike tells a very interesting story. It begins with Nero and Runi’s herd leaving their home in order to avoid a pack of hungry wolves. For many of the deer in the herd, the marsh they call home is where they have spent all their lives, and possibly is all they have ever known, so they don’t respond well to this proclamation. Regardless, they move on, heading towards the Red Forest. However, on the way, they are attacked by the wolves. Against orders, Nero and Runi turn back to help their friend, Biro, after he trips and falls, and while they are able to save his life, their actions are not without consequence. Volhos, the herd’s leader, does not take the twins’ disobedience lightly and casts them out of the herd as a result.

This is the beginning of Nero and Runi’s journey. After being cast out, the two find themselves in a world much bigger than anything they have ever known. They learn more about their birds, the other species of deer, and the deity that supposedly created their world. Of course, upon hearing about “The Great Karuna”, Nero is at first a bit doubtful about the existence of such a creature. Fortunately for him, The Great Karuna decides to assuage any doubts that Nero has by showing themself to Nero. Then, to really throw the non-believer for a loop, The Great Karuna requests that Nero find their three children, or else it could spell the end of the world. Nero is, quite reasonably, very shaken by this, but ultimately accepts The Great Karuna’s quest and sets out with Runi and their new companion, Kasko, to locate Eve, Loss, and War.

Golden Shrike can be a bit slow at first, as it takes several chapters for the main plot of the story to actually kick off. However, the preceding chapters are all very necessary, as they not only establish the characters’ personalities, but also lay the foundation of various aspects of the world that are necessary for later chapters. The early chapters really hammer home that most deer are creatures driven by fear, it is why they are prey animals. This sets Nero apart from them, as The Great Karuna later comments that he is “driven by something else”. They also establish that a deer’s bird is something very precious to them, even if they do not always know why. The religious deer believe that these birds serve as their connection to The Great Karuna, which is later proven correct when Nero encounters the deity. The beginning chapters also allow for the readers to draw certain parallels and comparisons between Nero’s old herd and the many deer they encounter after they leave home. Several of the other deer make comments in reference to certain stereotypes about the marshlanders, like that they aren’t religious, which we are able to see is true based on the small amount of interaction time we have with Nero’s herd at the beginning.

All in all, what I’m most interested to see in the future from Golden Shrike is the circumstances around Antaras, Helevise, and the mysterious doe that accompanies them. We don’t know too much about them right now, but their conversation at the beginning of chapter 5 leaves me with a lot more questions than answers. Who is this mysterious doe and what is her relationship to Antaras? Why does she refuse to speak? Is she actually blind? How is she able to revive birds? What are Antaras’s intentions, specifically with this doe, but also in general? Why do they make him selfish? What is it exactly that he hopes to achieve? As interesting as Nero and the other members of the main cast are, I’d love to see more of this little trio in the future just because I’m very curious and want to learn more about them.

Spoilers End

All in all, if you’re looking for an original fantasy comic, Golden Shrike is a great read. I’ve been following it for years now and it’s only looking more promising with each update. The characters are all distinct and interesting, with the most recent chapters focusing on the main cast’s latest addition. The artwork and character designs are all beautiful, with chapter 5 in particular having some of the most visually stunning panels yet. Plus, the worldbuilding and story itself are fascinating, with a lot of thought, time, and effort having been put into them. So I highly recommend it.

If you want to read Golden Shrike, you can find it on ComicFury and Deviantart. You can also follow the author, Doeprince, on Deviantart, Tumblr, and Twitter. You can also support the comic and its author, as well as access cool bonus content, on their Patreon.

And without further ado, let’s check out the rest of this week’s lineup!

Crossroads Comics
Land-Shaymin Spherical!
Mark’s Guild An inquiry at the library!
PMD: Chanterelle Aaaaaaa!!
PMD: Crossroads Wonder what that could be all about.
PMD: Wildfire The next morning!
Renegade’s Redemption It’s a date!
Shinka: The Last Eevee Our granddaughter, you say?
The Shaymin Café Vetle says Trans Rights!
The Spaced Out Rangers Pow pow pow!!

ComicFury Comics
Champion’s Mercy Well they seem pleasant.
Chimeran Legends The darkness seen round the world.
Dear Sergio Oh look at that good BIRB!!
Gigi’s Sky Nuzlocke Wonder what sorts of questions she has.
Golden Shrike Kindness is our greatest strength.
Pokemon Constellation Onwards! Towards adventure!
PMD: Another Perspective Patience is a virtue, Purry.
PMD: Powers of Night Never hurts to try, right?
PMD: Tower of Glass Maybe don’t make Smiley angry, Pol?
Rejuvenation: The Interceptor Journey It’s time for a journey to begin!

Deviantart Comics
Cain and Mabel They weren’t very helpful.
PEA Shorts Oof, I know that look.
PMD: Explorers of Shadows The battle rages on!
PMD: Hanging in the Balance You could say they’re acquainted.
PMD: On Borrowed Time She thinks.
PMD: The Rogue Team It’s not what you think!
Shining Sea Ketchup child!
Sona-Locke Professor Juniper seems way more into that than she should be.
Sunlocke Hey look, Bramble’s back!
The Nateventure Zoe is at her LIMIT.

Off-site Comics
Ask the Island Guardians Mead! Delicious mead!
Ask the Wishmaster Now seems like a good time to run.
Asking Sticky Paws Battle against the odds!
Daffodil Shaymin I wonder who this other Shaymin could be.
Daily Ashleigh Raichu Talk about a cold shoulder.
Lil Char and the Gang Time to meet the locals!
Pokémon Ash AUs Being a parent is tough.
TC-96 The hole.
Team Next-Gen Interesting fun facts about Claudia!
The Last Journey Prepared for what, exactly?

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