By: Michael Alan Nelson (writer), Alejandro Aragon (art), Nolan Woodard (colors), Johnny Lowe (letters) & Ian Brill (editor)
The Story: A pretty good jumping on point as the danger shifts from the Infected to a British Army Colonel with an axe to grind.
What’s Good: One of the nicest things that I can say about this comic series is that it has almost made me forget the film on which it is based. All along, that outstanding film has been useful as background information, but it is hardly required because the comic exists completely on its own. This issue dives right back into events that happened close to the end of that film and in so doing, creates a nice little “jumping on point” (although I hate that term) for newer readers. That’s something that a title like this needs (even though I think anyone could pick this up anywhere and just enjoy it) because seeing issue #19 on the cover makes an issue uninviting to newcomers in today’s comic market. Sigh….
And what a neat little jumping on point it is! If you’re like me, you’re going to be on Wikipedia to recall some events from the end of the film to put the action here into context. But, what is best about this story arc is that it shows how a series such as this is about much more than the Infected (this series’ answer to zombies). All stories set in these post-apocalypse worlds are interesting because they have their monsters, but what is more scary is what the humans do to one another after the breakdown of society. What if one of those survivors was a badass Army Special Forces officer who had an axe to grind against YOU? And, what if that officer was completely unbound by rules or regulations? That is the scenario that Nelson paints here and it’ll be enjoyable to watch where this takes us.
It also seems like Nelson has stories for this series that’ll go for as long as people keep buying it, and that is a very good thing because this is one of the best and most consistent series being sold right now. It hasn’t had a bad or confusing issue yet.
Aragon’s art is again very strong. He’s accomplished something that I didn’t know would be possible and made me not miss Declan Shalvey (who started on this series and is now doing issues of Thunderbolts for Marvel). He effectively captures the mood of the characters and sells the drama very well.
What’s Not So Good: While I do like the story, I didn’t love that I had to bust out Wikipedia for a plot synopsis of the film. I don’t think this story called for heavy exposition, but I wouldn’t have minded a little more than we got because it’ll be a little uninviting to those who haven’t seen the film. Of course, it is pretty easy to remedy that problem via Netflix and probably most of the people buying this series have seen the film.
My only other quibble is that I thought in the early scene where Clint and Selina were trying to get away from the Colonel, it seemed like Clint was taking charge a little too much. I understand that his character has all this experience as a combat journalist whereas Selina is just a chemist who knows how to avoid the Infected, but thus far in the series Selina has been in complete charge of the group and Clint has been kinda a dope (“Stand here until I tell you to move, Clint!”). It was odd enough from a characterization standpoint that I actually flipped back to the credits to see if there was a guest writer who didn’t “get” Nelson’s characters as well. Actually, I think I know what Nelson is doing by: by switching the threat from Infected to humans, we’ll be dealing with a problem that Clint knows more about and that will necessarily jumble the Clint/Selina relationship. I just thought this transition wasn’t the smoothest.
Oh…and I’m sick of the romantic subtext in this series. These two characters have been alone together in hostile territory for a long time. If they wanted to fool around, they would have done it by now.
Conclusion: A really good change of pace issue for this series that makes me feel really good about its long-term prospects. It is also a nice jumping on point for fans of the film.