Monday, November 22, 2010

Wasteland: Enjoying the apocolypse, as much as I can

Wasteland by Antony Johnson and Christopher Mitten


Way back when I had a lot more time and was updating this site on a daily or almost daily schedule I came across the solicitation for Wasteland. I was incredibly excited about a new post-apocalyptic book coming out from an author whose work I had already enjoyed. Heck he even posted a comment here. Then five years went by and I never found myself actually picking up the book. I didn’t get a copy of the initial release at the local comic shop so decided to wait for the trade, then a lot of life happened and I’ve ended up finally picking up the Apocalyptic Edition recently.

Boy, am I glad to have finally gotten around to this book, and this edition in particular. Now, I know if I want more issues to come out I should be buying the monthly releases as monthly books live and die by their monthly numbers, but that’s just not possible for me anymore. I don’t have the time to date a store every Wednesday. Getting this cloth bound tome onto my shelves, though, I’m more than happy to do. I’m as every bit an aesthete for the physical product as I am the content and this is one of the better looking books to grace my shelves. It’s next to my pholio versions of Ulysses(it was a gift and I’ve only managed 40 pages about 10 years ago) and 1066 and All That because it just looks like it fits in there. I’m always happy to have a comic book that looks as attractive as anything else I may have lining my shelves.

As for the content, yeah, it matches the presentation spot on. This is both familiar and new at once, something that can either work incredibly well or fail spectacularly. When disparate ideas are mashed together to add new flavour to a genre I’m half reading to see if the writer and artist can pull it off as much as I just enjoy the plot and action. The influences I see here are the Mad Max films and Charlton Heston’s religious epics.

Adding the religious persecution to a wasteland desert is one of those ideas that are so wonderfully apt that it amazes you that you’ve never seen it before. The Sunners are building infrastructure in the same way that the Jews in the Old Testament were building pyramids. They’re slave labour for a pharaoh who has bigger problems than religious intolerance and labour unrest. Add to that a diesel powered caravan and some post apocalyptic city dwelling mutants and you’ve got a corker of a wasteland romp.

There’s a bigger mystery at play here, and it’s mired within religious politics and brutal survival in an unforgiving climate. The mystery gets slowly revealed, piece by piece without ever losing sight of the main characters, Abi and Michael. They’re really the heart of the story, with a few sub-plots amongst city politicians, watchmen and Abi’s friends (current and former). There’s a lot of subterfuge, harsh-realities and mixed in there is unending hope and optimism for something greater that may or may not exist. Is their fabled land of milk and honey real, and if so is it a blessing or a curse? I’ll be there to find out, and I’m planning to take less than five years to find out.

1 comment:

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