1.06.2010

1.06.10 Reviews (Part 1)

Wasteland #27 (Oni Press): After a brief delay, it was nice to jump back into all of the characters and interconnected plot threads Antony Johnston has marching forward. I was thankful for the recap blurb on the inside front cover. I usually just skim it quickly, but this time out I read carefully and found it a valuable resource to re-immerse myself into the universe of The Big Wet. I think if you were to compare Christopher Mitten’s pencils from the first issue to now, you’d see a tremendous increase in detail and background work. I’m really taken by the depth he provides some of his panels. The opening establishing shots, the full page of the bombed out city wall, the depth and layering gives so much life to the world. Wasteland is a roller coaster thrill ride of emotion. Jakob reuniting with Golden Voice begins to tie up some loose threads and plays joyous initially, but they’re put on a critical path that is chilling with the ultimate reveal. Johnston has a way of using simple lines like “just following orders” that carry additional meaning in the zeitgeist. From the Nazis at Nuremberg, to US forces in My Lai, all the way to the City of Newbegin, we're reminded that no order is valid if it's immoral. Yes, it means we see Jakob struggle with some of his decisions, but we can also extrapolate larger meaning from them by examining the lessons in maintaining security at the cost of personal freedoms. When you lay that line over topical debates like how to deal with an insurgency, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, the brewing tease of Yemen, and the Obama Administration’s recent decision to adjudicate the would-be Christmas Day bomber with federal criminal charges rather than treating him as a terrorist “enemy combatant,” you see just the type of contemporary meaning that fuels these scripts so strongly. It’s a fantastical setting, but reverberates with a familiarity we’d probably be uncomfortable admitting. Who could have predicted that a post apocalyptic cultural survival tale would be the most politically relevant piece of pop culture available? Wasteland is unique as a work of comic book fiction as well. Not only does it manage to work as a long form epic, but it functions just as well in isolated issues, complete with rousing cliffhangers, in floppy serialized format. I’m addicted to the whole; I’m addicted to the parts. Once again I find myself satisfied, but the growing need for another fix is an insatiable hunger. Johnston and Mitten are my pushers. Grade A.

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