X Reviews … Wasteland #33

Since every comic is someone’s first, the books have to be able to stand on their own. X Reviews one new issue each week based on their own merit (and yes, “review” can mean spoilers!) A good story is a good story, no matter how long or short the run. This is where we draw the line for…

Wasteland #33

story by Anthony Johnston
art by Justin Greenwood
letters by Douglas E. Sherwood
colors by Christopher Mitten
published by Oni Press

Religion is usually a touchy subject in polite society. In the United States specifically, religious freedom has granted people from numerous cultures the chance to practice their particular brand of worship without fear of persecution, within reason. Sorry Polygamists! With such a wide berth, discussions on religion can be volatile. Even in a single religion such as Christianity, there are literally thousands of denominations. It becomes very difficult to discuss ideology when the variations are so slight and numerous.

Comics have never had a problem taking a run at sensitive themes. Either in metaphor or head on, comics have been bold by casting both positive or negative attention on this topic. One current title from Oni Press is such a book.

Wasteland is set in America after something called the Big Wet. The name seems to signify some sort of cataclysmic flood. There are different factions of people that live in the “wasteland” as well as a few cities that are self-governed. The beginning of this issue also includes a  story recap. Hardcore readers may view this as redundant, but it is always a plus if you plan on hooking new readers. Kudos on that!

There are two stories running through the issue. The main story focuses on siblings Michael and Abi and their travels through Wasteland. While they sleep by a campfire their companion Gerr is knocked unconscious by an unseen individual. The man is revealed to be naked with long hair and abrand on his chest resembling Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. He stays only a few moments and disapears saying only “Sleep well, children.”

The new story arc focuses on a crisis of faith by local religious man named Brother Zakk. A stranger had come to the city and caused Zakk to question his beliefs. Farther Afton, advanced in age and unsteady, rebukes his apprentice and warns the doubt he feels is from the Devil. Zakk is convinced he has finally seen the light and leaves the church. There is a panel showing Farther Afton in a dark background. Can you say metaphor?

Michael falls off an old metal bridge into the Devil’s Dyke, a ditch surrounding the village used to keep devils away . When the town’s people see this, the three are immediately branded devils. Only with Brother Zakk’s help are they able to find some shelter so Michael can heal. Shortly after, Gerr eavesdrops on Abi while she uses a special ability to heal Michael’s leg. When Abi realizes Gerr has discovered her secret, she demands he tell no one about what he has seen.

There is also a very interesting cliffhanger at the end of the issue revealing Zakk’s ideological question may be connected to Michael and Abi’s special abilities. One this is for certain, there will definitely be some kind of action in the next issue. Someone is gonna get old testament biblical for sure.

Since we are already neck deep in religious imagery, I “shalt not lie.” Wasteland was not even on my radar. Originally, I was going to review Archie #629 for this week’s review, but my local comic shop does not carry any copies of Archie. Shocker! At the last minute, I chose Wasteland #33 having no idea what the book was about.  I was surprised by how good it was and gave it an A-. Writer Anthony Johnston is creating a interesting story arc. I may have to pick up the next few issues to see where this goes. I did not like or dislike the art. It wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but did hold up on its own.

For more information on Wasteland, visit http://www.onipress.com/thebigwet/.

As a a new reader coming into the series blind, there was quite a bit that I did not understand. Between the prose piece in the beginning and Johnston’s writing style, I believe I too have seen the light! 

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