28 August 2014

Wasteland by Antony Johnston and Christopher Mitten

Wasteland was another step in my continued immersion in to the world of digital comics. I had been aware of the title for some time and while I had helped myself to the free first issue (something that I often do) I had gone no further. There was nothing "wrong" with the title it was just that I had so many other titles waiting to be read, as I always do.

And then ComiXology had a snap sale.

This is a common tactic of theirs and it obviously works. It made me buy some Batman books that I already had and it made me buy some issues of Wasteland too. There are over fifty issues now but I managed to restrain myself to just six, to complete the first story arc and also get the free-standing issue #7.

This is what the first seven issues look like on my iPad.

The big appeal was the creative team of Antony Johnston and Christopher Mitten, the guys behind Umbral. Antony Johnston also write The Fuse that I also read.

The first thing to notice is that Wasteland is black and white. I am comfortable with this having been brought up on British comics and also having read several Marvel black and white magazines in the late 70's when Rudy Nebres was a hero of mine. Incidentally, that is also when and where Star Lord made his début.

Wasteland is a post-apocalyptic story set in the heart of America after the Big Wet which destroyed civilisation and left the remaining people living in small towns and villages with technology from the middle-ages. It has the frontier feel of a cowboy story set somewhere in the south-west.

That sort of reminded me of A Canticle for Leibowitz but only for the setting, not the story.

One of the main players in Wasteland is Michael, pictured here. He is a loner, a scavenger and it is his desert-smarts that help to keep a small group of other survivors/settlers alive.

The other main player (so far) is a mad-king type, Marcus, who runs the town Newbegin. This is the biggest settlement that we have seen so far.

Then there are the Sunners and the Sandeaters. There is a lot going on in this story!

I chose this interior page to illustrate the art work because it is so dramatic. Its layout is not typical though and most pages are constructed from square panels in an irregular grid. Each page looks different as the panels change shape and position to match the flow of the story.

The first story-arc completes nicely but also leaves open lots of threads that I am sure are developed in future issues. Not least is the mystery of the Big Wet and the machine in a trader's store that Michael found that may help to solve this.

It is tempting to plunge in and read the other fifty-odd issues but I have one issue with the comic. The type used in the lettering is slightly indistinct in the digital editions and that makes it somewhat hard for me to read. I can read it but slower and with more effort than I would like. It could be that reading glasses would help but I do not need them for any other digital comics so there is something about Wasteland that is causing the problem for me.

That is only a minor gripe and I am sure that I will be back for more Wasteland before too long to find out what happens next and also what happened previously.

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