Friday, June 19, 2015

Review - Empty Zone #1


"Nobody in this biz can do what I do."

How do you plan on surviving the apocalypse? If you've got some survival skills, talent or physical ability, then chances are you stand at least a passing chance of surviving. Is it really worth surviving the collapse of society though? Empty Zone #1 from Image Comics boasts an interesting approach to the lack of humanity. The issue is written and illustrated by Jason Shawn Alexander, colored by Luis Nct and lettered by Sherard Jackson.

Corinne White attempts to reconcile with the ghosts of her violent past, literally, as she trudges through a world of dystopian cityscapes, reanimated corpses, & ganglands full of animal human hybrids.

The market for dystopia is clearly booming, although Alexander's approach is a tad more measured and focuses more on surviving an eventual decay as opposed to a rapid destruction. Corinne is a mixture of bad dreams and attitude, accented by a metal arm that gives her an ability to "speak" to technology. As a character Corinne is pretty fascinating, as she's practically incapable of getting through any facet of her life without and abundance of drugs and/or alcohol. Alexander infuses the book with a slew of surreal images and events, both of which work in tandem to create an almost psychedelic cocktail. The reliance on substances adds a certain incoherence to the story itself, as Corinne seems to float seamlessly between being awake and nightmares.

Alexander doubles down on the art, adding an equally surreal painted approach that keeps the book feeling scattered. His characters boast a photorealistic quality to them that's accented by the artistic finishes, giving the book a grimy feel. Much of the action occurs in shadows, which perhaps intentionally mirrors the mysteries Corinne is grappling with in her own mind. Alexander's artwork isn't constrained by traditional panel layouts; instead, he chooses to feature Corinne moving through the scenery as if she's physically moving through the pages of the book. Empty Zone #1 is awash in blues, reds and black, as Nct's palette provides a stark contrast to the empty gutters.

Empty Zone #1 is a pretty trippy first issue that plumbs the depths of a crippled society. Corinne is a fascinating individual with an over-reliance on substances as a substitute for life and it's clearly affecting the consistency of her mental state. Alexander takes the somewhat familiar, dystopian setting and claims a corner of it for himself, establishing his view of life in such a dire setting. His artwork further embellishes the mental state of both the characters and the setting, relying on shadows to mask what's truly happening. Empty Zone #1 is a great first issue that probably deserves to be read a couple of times to fully appreciate what's going on within its pages.

Empty Zone #1 is in stores now.



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