Review - Pandemica #1 (@IDWPublishing)

"I...I've never seen anything spread so fast."

The most terrifying thing about an outbreak is how--if not contained quickly and well--it can become unmanageable and life-threatening in its scope. In Pandemica #1 from IDW Publishing, the way that a virus is so dangerous is even more horrible. The issue is written by Jonathan Maberry, illustrated by Alex Sanchez, colored by Jay Fotos and lettered by Shawn Lee.

War is brewing in America. A shadow government is preparing to launch "purity bombs" for ethnic cleansing. A small group of scientists and former SpecOps shooters stand in their way. Join the resistance-save the world!

The primary thrust of Pandemica is the burgeoning conflict on the horizon as a result of the purity bombs created by Maberry. Maberry's narrative hinges on racial profiling and what's particularly frightening is that there are instances in the book where you feel as if you're reading a news article as opposed to comic. There is some optimism though, as Maberry provides a believable group of protagonists who have the skills to succeed in preventing the war. The dialogue does a great job of introducing the reader to said characters, providing sharp and informative exchanges for readers to absorb for further context. The issue is paced very well, as Maberry spends most of the issue establishing the stakes before diving in (towards the end) to the real meat of the story.

The illustrations by Sanchez are grimy, relying on rough linework to give the reader a sense of what's happening without holding their hand. Each of the characters have their own distinct appearance that make one stand out from one another, as well as embrace their talents that they're contributing to the team. The art style doesn't allow for much in the way of movement though, as each character feels firmly fixed in place regardless of whether they're engaged in hand-to-hand combat or having a conversation. The panels are very clean in their presentation, making it easy for readers to move from one scene to the next and not miss a beat. Fotos' colors are washed out and earthy, reinforcing the rapidly crumbling civilization.

Probably the most galling thing about Pandemica #1 is that there's some truth behind the plot. There's a sense of urgency on the part of the characters to stop the war before it starts, but doing so will require stopping much more than just combat and violence. Maberry has taken it upon himself to fuse together xenophobia and the apocalypse into a story that's eerily predictive of where we as a society might be a few years down the road. The illustrations by Sanchez are a good match for the story's subject matter as it lends a maturity to the script. Pandemica #1 is a bold first issue that takes some risks in its approach, but they're risks that seem particularly relevant in this day and age.

Pandemica #1 is available September 11.