Friday, June 5, 2015

Review - Broken World #1

"With two days of exodus left, humanity holds its collective breath."

Humanity has a tendency to rally together when all are faced with peril. It also has a tendency to turn against one another when favorites are played. When the government plays favorites and decides who will live and who will die in Broken World #1 from BOOM! Studios, humanity gets to show both sides of the coin. The issue is written by Frank J. Barbiere, illustrated by Christopher Peterson, colored by Marissa Louise and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

With a meteor days away from causing an extinction-level event on Earth, time is running out for Elena Marlowe. While most of the planet’s population and her family were approved by the government to escape on one of the giant spaceships headed to another planet, her application was denied due to her mysterious past. With the meteor fast approaching, Elena tries desperately to find a way to fake her way onto the last ship or else be left behind to die with the rest of Earth’s rejected denizens.

Crafting a tale around an extinction-level event isn't exactly new, but Barbiere's take on it is actually quite refreshing. There's an asteroid headed for Earth and the government takes it upon itself to act as an evaluator of morality in determining who will be saved and Barbiere uses that tone exceedingly well. Some of humanity is given the "option" of escape (much like Noah's Ark) and Barbiere explores humanity's reaction to such a process--reactions which range from jubilation to suicide. His script moves somewhat out of order chronologically, yet the rearrangement works to further embolden the reveal at the end. Barbiere's choice to start the tale from the end is pretty powerful, as it underscores an honesty in Elena that belies her attempts to escape the impending destruction with her family.

Broken World #1 boasts a slightly futuristic look that convinces the reader such a scenario is indeed possible. Peterson's characters are cleanly defined and get the bulk of the attention to detail; despite this, his characters are still pretty simple-looking in appearance. Backgrounds are sparsely illustrated and make the characters stand out that much more and in many instances a panel will only feature a character or two interacting. Panels that render some form of action feel a little static, as Peterson's style doesn't have much of a kinetic energy to it. The Mars red tint for most of the book by Louise does emphasize the seemingly dire situation the planet is in, but she does contrast that harshness with pastels peppered here and there for other effect.

To say that Broken World #1 ends with a punch to the gut is an understatement. The sheer impact on the reader of the final, full-page panel and its dialogue is about as strong as that of an asteroid hitting Earth. Barbiere methodically builds the issue up to a certain resolution that the remainder of the series will hinge on, in addition to looking at concepts such as morality and religious fanaticism. Peterson's art is relatively simple, yet effective in ensuring the reader understands the situation and emotion the characters may be going through. Broken World #1 is a fantastic first issue that feels original in many ways while offering an ending that will definitely keep you intrigued for at least the next issue.

Broken World #1 is available now.


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