This one was recommended to me by a friend of mine. At the time of reading this I had not read anything else by Lemire. I thought it looked pretty goofy and didn’t know what it was about, but as you may or may not know I will read just about anything. So I had to check it out and I trust my friends recommendation.
Lemire is a Canadian comic writer and artist. I was surprised by his volume of work as I originally I thought he had only worked on The Underwater Welder and this one. He has worked on a ton of other titles and characters for DC, way too many to name. The really cool thing about Lemire is that he is a writer and an artist. He wrote and drew this whole series, which is very impressive. This is the second story by him I have read (The Underwater Welder) he again wrote and drew that one as well. I cannot imagine the time investment he has just in those two stories alone. I assume he did not draw any of the other titles he worked on at DC. Regardless this guy is extremely talented. He has also written a graphic novel called Mr. Nobody that I would like to check out eventually, which again he wrote and drew by himself.
The story opens up in a post apocalyptic world where the reader is wondering what has happened. A boy named Gus is living with his sick father in a cabin in the woods. Gus has two antlers growing out of his head and there are hints as to something that whatever is happening to Gus is responsible for what has happened with society. His father soon passes away and Gus is left to fend for himself. There are many people hunting the mutated people as they are seen as the reason things are the way they are. He is saved by a drifter named Jeppard who is more or less a badass in every way. He promises Gus that he will get him somewhere safe where he will no longer be hunted. Jeppard is true to his promise and delivers Gus to the sanctuary. Upon his arrival Gus quickly realizes that he is mortal danger as this place experiments on the mutated individuals.
This is a six trade series and I have only read the first trade. With that being said I think at the end of this one was the biggest cliff hanger I have seen in a story for a while. As you know I love a post apocalyptic stories but this one is different. There is not the focus on the society as it is nonexistent but rather focused on the relationships of the characters. It reminded me of The Road by Cormac McCarthy just a little, which for some reason that I cannot understand, everyone loves? Any ways that is an argument for another day.
Again I have only read the first trade so you may have to take this review with a grain of salt. I usually try to read at least two trades of a series before I do a review but I felt this one was pretty good. This genre is overdone yet Lemire has found a new way to put a different spin on it. As I said he focuses more on the relationships between Jeppard and Gus as opposed to what is going on around them. Don’t get me wrong stuff outside their relationship still drives the story, but while reading you really get a sense of helplessness for Gus and that Jeppard is going to be his savior. Things are not always as they seem.
Despite not really focusing what is left of the society you still get to see how things are faring in that world. Lemire does a good job of showing the reader a view of other aspects going on in this world. For everything that is shown there are still a ton of questions that are raised by during this first trade. That is one of the annoying things, but while reading you do not realize it until after you are finished. Then you start to think about what is going on and start to look at the bigger picture. This is both a good and bad thing as you don’t want to give away too much information but you want to give just enough away so things make sense. In my opinion Lemire does a great job flirting with this fine line. I have read a lot of stories where no info is given and it leaves you disinterested sometimes as nothing is making sense. Lemire lays out the basics so you have a nice framework to build on and to speculate with. Some may get annoyed by this and if that is the case then buy the next trade!
The artwork in this one is classic Lemire. It is the same style he used in The Underwater Welder, but this time he added color. It is a very simple style and a bit rudimentary, and I say that knowing that I cannot draw anything. The thing that irks me most is a very noticeable lack of detail. It is not bad and gets the job done, also I think it fits the story. The color really adds a world of difference in my opinion, as I felt UW was not a bad style of artwork but without the color really shows how simple and basic it is. The color really gives the artwork something special that I felt it was lacking. With that being said it is a far cry from anything spectacular, but a very different stylized art form. The page layouts are pretty typical for the most part and don’t add much to the story. Although, I would like to mention that there are a few really cool page layouts that should not go unmentioned. In UW Lemire created some really spectacular scenes and layouts, here he opts for more traditional layouts. I believe so as not to distract the reader from the story, which is the most important aspect of this one. That is often a pet peeve of mine.
Overall I recommend this one. I liked the story as it was a new twist on a very out done genre. The artwork is different but not the focal point of the book. I would love to continue reading this series as I really would like to know what is going on and how everything turns out, but I have a million other things to read. Check this one out if you get a chance I think you will enjoy it. Also, this has been out for a while so you should keep an eye out for it at your used book store, could get a few trades for next to nothing.