It’s not often you can jump into a series so far in and enjoy yourself, but this week “Wasteland” is offering up a great opportunity for the many curious readers with a dollar to spare.
This is a jumping-on point. It is obvious things have happened before this issue. Is it imperative you know every single one of those events? No. The major swipes of the brush are delivered in a recap at the start of the book and anything else will not affect your reading of this issue. For an issue meant to entice new readers, there are many effective factors at play. The character work, the loose yet informative dialogue, and the forward-moving narrative all work in unison to pull new readers in and then push them forward as quickly as possible.
One of the best aspects of this book is the dialogue. Antony Johnston has generated a plot full of great moments that intrigue and hook. He has also worked a lot of magic with the dialogue between these characters. If you think this is some staid post-apocalyptic book full of dour survivors and prophecy shilling loons then you need to think again. Some of these retorts and barbs are loaded with poison. Johnston is a writer clearly of the school of thought that you end pages with a beat or hook. The repartee between Abi, Michael and Gerr is often delicious.
About halfway through this issue, our wandering protagonists stumble upon Godsholm, a strange settlement full of superstitions and those fervent enough to uphold them. This is where we stop focusing on the characters and start unloading more coal into the narrative engine. Everything here is gripping, from Michael’s unfortunate incident to Gerr’s mischievous ways. The local preacher’s apprentice takes a stand, but the effects are tenuous, at best. It’s only the first issue of the arc and already the fuses have been lit.
The greyscaled art of Justin Greenwood suits the style of the book. The page layouts are never cluttered and they effectively work with the story at all times. His character work is simple and intuitive.There are clear and clean distinctions between all major players as well as the minor ones. This is the best work of his career so far because it’s both effective and a lot of fun. His characters float through panels effortlessly and hold the weight of a thousand words in their faces. The grayscale hues work for the washed out world where the post-apocalypse isn’t about the spectacle but rather the emotion left desolate behind.
Priced at only a dollar, there’s little risk in picking this book up, yet so much quality to enjoy. Johnston and Greenwood have offered the ridiculously difficult to obtain: a clear jumping on point in the middle of a long and unknown book. I haven’t read any “Wasteland” before, but these 22 pages have everything needed to draw the reader in.
Enjoy this introduction to Godsholm; it’s surely only going to get much worse.