Friday, August 10, 2012

Wasteland #39

Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Sandy Jarrell

A new issue of Wasteland is always a small cause for celebration, but I especially like the one-off issues that Johnston always writes between longer story arcs.  This issue takes us further back than we've ever been in this series, with a story set just ten years after the 'Big Wet', the disaster that changed the entire world.

This story is centred on Michael, Marcus, and Mary, as a trio of children (they look to be about twelve to fourteen years old) as they travel through the wasteland the world has become.  These names are familiar to regular readers of the book.  Michael is the ruinrunner who is the series's main character.  Marcus becomes the ruler of Newbegin, a walled city that is probably the pinnacle of human civilization in this world, but he runs it as a dictator.  Mary is his consort, who only recently arrived in the city, having led an army of Sand-Eaters in an attack before switching sides. 

This issue shows the three kids as allies, if not quite friends.  There is a rivalry between Marcus and Michael, although Michael doesn't particularly care about it.  It's clear that Marcus is in love with Mary, but she is more interested in Michael.  When a group of scavengers find them, and decide that they would like to take the girl, things get interesting, especially when Marcus has a vision of Michael killing Mary.

Wasteland has had a number of artists since Christopher Mitten made his departure (there is yet another artist coming on board for the next arc).  I've never heard of Sandy Jarrell before, but I like his work here.  It fits nicely with the look Mitten established for the book - scratchy and as sparse as the landscape, although still capable of telling a clear story.  I like Jarrell's work much more than I did Justin Greenwood's, and I hope we see him on this book again.

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