By: Justin Jordan (script/creator), Kyle Strahm (art/creator), Felipe Sobreiro (colors) and CRANK! (letters)

The Story: A post-apocalypse nomad finds a baby that could hold the secret to defeating a demonic plague.

Review (with minor SPOILERS): This was a pretty solid first issue.  The post-apocalypse genre is very crowded.  It happens to be one of my favorite genres just because I like to see what storytellers can do when you take away certain rules.  It’s the same thing as telling a story where gravity didn’t exist or where faster-than-light travel was possible: Taking away rules opens new avenues for storytelling.  So, I’ll sample most things post-apocalyptic even if it means I get a healthy dose of crap sometimes.

Spread is pretty solid.  The reasons for the apoclaypse are vague: something about digging too deep and unleashing something nasty and horrible.  Humanity isn’t totally destroyed as we see dead researchers and their crashed plane.  And there are bandits, there are ALWAYS bandits.  But the focus is on a nomad named “No” who wanders the land and is immune to The Spread.

No has a neat look to him.  He looks like a less muscly version of Wolverine in civilian clothes: messy black hair, unshaven, sideburns, Candian wilderness attire, etc.  And we learn quickly that No can handle himself well in a fight when he uses twin hatchets to take down a Spread-possessed researcher.  Along the way, he finds a baby who may be the secret to saving humanity from the Spread, get’s chased by lots of Spread monsters and that’s it.  End of issue #1.  So, we meet the protagonist, his reason for being in the story and learn the basic set-up of this world.  Some comics take 4-5 issues to accomplish that.  Spread #1 pulls you in enough that you’ll be curious to see what happens in issue #2.

The art is another major reason why the comic is compelling.  Most of the comic is loose and sketchy.  That’s kinda how I like a comic to look.  My imagination fills in details just fine, thank you.  So, I’d prefer an artist leave me some room for my mind to imagine rather than feed me every detail a la Jim Lee.  But, what I loved about the art was one little sequence in the issue where No faces this possessed researcher.  The researcher just kind wanders up slowly and everything remains sketchy, except for the researchers EYES.  There’s no way you can look at those EYES and not be a little freaked out.  They just look….off-putting and disturbing.  They’re huge circles and you can see the whites above and below….which is NOT what human eyes normally look like.  It probably is triggering something primal in our brains where millions of years of evolution have taught us that bugged out eyes means someone is NOT RIGHT and to RUN AWAY.  It could be rabies, insanity, drugs, demonic possession, basically you don’t want to be near anyone with those eyes.  So, kudos to Strahm for recognizing that and pulling it off.

The only thing I didn’t love about the issue is how almost all of the narrative storytelling is in the form of narration boxes.  I just don’t love that storytelling device.  I’m not sure how else this story could have been told, but I still don’t love narration boxes.  They are a way to give exposition without making the characters talk to much and I get that, but exposition is still exposition.

Conclusion: A very solid first issue.  If you’re into post-apocalypse fiction, this is worth checking out.

Grade: B+

– Dean Stell

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