Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review - The Wilds #1 (@blackmaskstudio)

"They're coming..."

Dealing with society is its own beast. Dealing with a society that has individuals who act like beasts is something else entirely. In The Wilds #1 from Black Mask Studios, life must go on. The issue is written by Vita Ayala, illustrated by Emily Pearson, colored by Marissa Louise and lettered by Jim Campbell.

After a cataclysmic plague sweeps across America, survivors come together to form citystate-like communities for safety. Daisy Walker is a Runner for The Compound, a mix of post-apocalyptic postal service and black market salvaging operation. It is a Runner’s job to ferry items and people between settlements, and on occasion scavenge through the ruins of the old world. Daisy is the best there is at what she does. Out beyond the settlement walls are innumerable dangers: feral animals, crumbling structures, and Abominations — those that were touched by the plague and became something other. After a decade of surviving, Daisy isn’t phased by any of it — until her lover, another Runner named Heather, goes missing on a job. Desperate to find her, Daisy begins to see that there may be little difference between the world inside the walls and the horrors beyond.

Like any good apocalypse tale, Ayala infuses The Wilds #1 with an appropriate level of despair, a ragtag group of survivors and a physical threat that's not completely understood. What makes The Wilds #1 slightly different is that there seems to be a bit more of a structure surrounding the survivors and the fact that the threat is floral in nature. The series seems to be predicated on Runners who make the dangerous trips outside the walls of safety in order to placate a ruler of sorts. Ayala funnels the narrative through one of those runners in Daisy, giving the reader a glimpse of a day in her life and some of the tough decisions she has to make on the road. Ayala shows the reader that there might be a way out for some of the Runners, but there definitely looks to be some politics that will come into play. And that's all before you even get into the really fascinating part of the story where Ayala has presented the opponent as people who have been overcome with flowers.

Pearson's art is extremely crisp. She uses fairly wispy linework to define the characters that is made to look even thinner by the very thick lines of the panels. Because of her approach though there's something of a sense of detachment amongst the characters, in that their physical interactions feel a little rigid. It's an interesting illustrative style as everything seems placed fairly meticulously and Pearson does a great job of using it effectively to convey the action. The colors by Louise feel very autumnal, primarily as she relies on oranges for the days and blues for the nights.

The Wilds #1 is a first issue that establishes a new take on an old formula. Daisy is trying to balance living a life that's as close to normal in a completely abnormal world. Ayala gives the characters depth and interaction with one another that will help move the story effectively. Pearson's illustrations are gorgeous and very refined in their approach. The Wilds #1 is worth giving a read if you're looking for a post-apocalyptic tale that isn't The Walking Dead.

The Wilds #1 is available now.


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