Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wasteland #33

Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Justin Greenwood

In my opinion, some of the best news of the New Year is that Wasteland is back, and that the creators are committed to putting the book out on a monthly schedule again.  For the first year and a half of its existence, Wasteland was just about the most reliable independent comic published at the time, but something happened that caused artist Christopher Mitten to fall way behind, and eventually leave the title.  The first replacement artist didn't work out for some reason, but now Justin Greenwood has joined the title, and it feels like things are going to work out for it again.

To celebrate getting back into the swing of things, this issue is only $1, and is well worth picking up.  It's not a perfect jumping on point (Wasteland is a complex series), but Antony Johnston does his best to welcome new readers with a detailed recap inside the front cover, and by shifting the story back to central characters Michael and Abi, who are continuing their journey to A-Ree-Yass-I, a mysterious land that has been talked about as the birthplace of the Big Wet, the event that changed the world.

They are accompanied by Gerr, who they think is a Ruin Runner, like Michael, but who we know to be an agent of Marcus, the leader of Newbegin, who wants to keep Michael from getting where he's going.

In this issue, we see a new aspect of society - a Cross Chains town.  Basically, this is an isolated place where Christianity is still practiced.  Most of society has become rather tribal at this point, with the Sunner religion claiming most souls, except for city people (who enslave Sunners), and groups like the Dog Tribes.  It's a surprise to see a holdover faith from the old world still existing here, and I like how Johnston has the people who live in the town revert to a more superstitious and suspicious form of the religion (they think Michael is a demon).

Also of interest in this issue is the introduction of Zakk, a brother of the church who has lost his faith after a visit by a strange man who seems kind of god-like.  This strange man has also recently visited Michael, Abi, and Gerr in their dreams.  Johnston is setting this series up to go in some interesting new directions.

Justin Greenwood does a good job with this debut issue.  I liked his work on Marc Guggenheim's Resurrection(I do wish we'd see more of that title too), but at first worried that he wouldn't be a good fit for this title.  His art lacks the rougher, shabbiness of Christopher Mitten's, which fit this world so well, but he does handle the characters quite well.  Here's hoping for monthly issues of this series all year.

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