Review - Dissension: War Eternal #1 (@AspenComics)

"What is known is that what they sought and what they found were two different things entirely."

History is full of myths and legends. The oral nature of them allow for some variations in terms of the tales themselves based on who's telling them, but regardless there are some who live and die by what's come before them. In Dissension: War Eternal #1 from Aspen Comics, a war is waged in the future set into motion by myths of the past. The issue is written by Christopher Fielder, illustrated by Jordan Gunderson, colored by Luis Guerrero and lettered by Taylor Esposito.

In the not so distant future... The U.S. has spent several years embroiled in a conflict with the invading forces of China. In the war zone of the American Southwest, small bands of freedom fighters have formed to help guide refugees away from the destruction. Isabel Vasquez, known to her squad as "Delphi", has been leading rescue missions inside the combat zone for years. Escorting those displaced from the war has fueled her faith that she is making a difference. But now that faith is increasingly tested by reoccurring nightmares of a coming apocalypse. She fears the war is only the beginning of a great that promises to bring humanity to the brink of extinction! Unbeknownst to Delphi, a band of renegade angels has fled Heaven seeking a new refuge. The Earth has become their new home, where they view humanity as a plague that must be purged. As their path forges ahead toward global genocide, it is yet to be decided if Delphi and her growing visions of a global Armageddon can help stop them in time.

Upon finishing Dissension: War Eternal #1 the reader instantly knows that Fielder has something grander in mind; that being said, getting to that destination may take some work. Fielder jumps around time (and space) quite a bit in the first issue, introducing the reader to all the key players and spending only a few pages on each locale. That in and of itself isn't really too bad, but things get a little convoluted because Fielder is cramming the history of the Dissension universe and the new characters into one issue. The characters's dialogue do a pretty reliable job of conveying information to the reader, even if it's an avalanche of detail. All of Fielder's jumping around does contribute some murkiness to the plot and central threads of the issue.

Gunderson's artistic approach is very strong. Gunderson illustrates the characters with dark lines that emphasize details such as facial features and physiques, emphasizing the disparity in appearance amongst the key players. For the most part the perspective is standard fare, although there are some points (one panel in particular) where Gunderson attempts to change the view and it feels a little off. In this case, the panel switches to a first-person view, but the composition of the first-person and someone facing him is drawn in a way where it looks like the second person is inside the helmet of the first person--it's just an odd panel. Guerrero's colors are vivid and bold throughout.

Dissension: War Eternal #1 wears its ambitions on its sleeve. Delphi is isn't entirely aware of what she's about to be up against and the war that's raged to this point has likely just been a precursor of things to come. Fielder's script is jam-packed with people, places and things as he moves the narrative from point to point. Gunderson's illustrations are appropriate tonally for the story, striking a balance between dramatic and fantastic. Dissension: War Eternal #1 is a dense first issue that will likely require a couple of readings to fully grasp everything that's occurring within its pages.

Dissension: War Eternal #1 is available now.