Sheltered #5 [Advance Review]

Sheltered #5 (Image): I did some sort of weird reverse gasp when I cracked this issue open, as the full page opener rendered by Johnnie Christmas and Shari Chankhamma literally took my breath away. Their compositions are so smart and striking, the rich juxtaposition between how the light and smoke of the fire in the foreground counterbalances against the snowy skyline in the background. They help writer Ed Brisson marry his affection for low-budget sordid crime tales and the high concept du jour (pre-) apocalyptic genre so well. Christmas is particularly good at emotions and intent being carried in facial expressions. We begin to see a power shift in this issue that highlights a theory of social influence I read about years ago when I was wasting a decade working in the annals of Corporate America. The theory essentially suggested that the average mass of people will break down into thirds once you try to exert influence over them: one third will actively support you and acquiesce, one third will come off neutral or indifferent, and one third will actively resist and fight against you. Readers can now start their pools and place bets on the characters being fleshed out and who goes which way under the de facto leadership of Lucas. Speaking of Lucas, he’s a masterful spin doctor (ok, let’s just say “manipulator”) who tries to crack down even tighter in an effort to maintain his precarious grasp on Safe Haven, but as the saying goes, the tighter you try to squeeze grains of sand, the more they just slip through your fingers… I really enjoyed seeing new alliances being forged by people who either suspect or know the truth about what happened to Chris. I won’t spoil it, but the close of this first arc comes with an “AWW, C’MON!” cliffhanger that will have lasting repercussions that shake up the externalities of the status quo, which has to this point been driven solely by internalities. There’s also another dose of backmatter by Ryan K. Lindsay, this time discussing the threat of Solar Storms. He manages to keep his half pragmatic / half paranoid voice in play, with references to Fantastic Four and “Black Swan Events,” something we used to discuss in crisis management contingencies, and a personal favorite term I last saw being used in ABC’s cancelled-before-its-time show Flash Forward. Backmatter Is As Backmatter Does, and this one is a subtle form of entertainment that bolsters the main course. If you’re missing Sheltered, you’re missing out on one of the hottest new books of the year, which still probably hasn’t realized it’s full subcultural social phenomenon potential as “The Next The Walking Dead.” Note: The first TPB is out in December, with the series resuming with #6 in January. #TeamVictoria Grade A.


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