Each of the participating writers/reviews of Comic Bastards will give the issue a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass along with a short reason for the score. Here’s a blurb about the issue from Oni Press before we begin: When five friends go to bury a time capsule before going their separate ways, they find a mysterious bunker stamped with their names and containing artifacts from a time that has yet to come. Will their discovery save the world or doom it? From Joshua Hale Fialkov (I, VAMPIRE; ULTIMATES) and Joe Infurnari (MARATHON) comes a new ongoing series that proves outrunning your future is no easier than escaping your past.
Wow. After seeing so many comic books popping up about the apocalypse, sometimes I just wish that trend would die down. That said, sometimes you come an incredible idea and story like The Bunker. You have your books like The Walking Dead which tell a post-apocalyptic tale. You have a book like (my personal favorite current series) Sheltered which tells a pre-apocalyptic tale. Then, you have The Bunker which boasts both genres while seamlessly shifting through both. This double-sized issue did a great job of introducing us into this mind-bending plot which includes the main characters’ future selves writing letters to their present selves about what happens in the future and what they’re going to do. It all starts to make sense and raises other questions in the process, which makes me incredibly excited for the second issue (especially with that cliffhanger).
I already feel connected to the characters as well, except for my hatred of Billy. They did a great job at introducing them, and each has their own personality which is fleshed out within. There are only two negative things I can say about this book. First, to me at least, the jokes and references weren’t funny at all. Luckily that was done away with quickly, as the grave nature of the book is quickly resumed. Also, to me the gang didn’t feel like that great of friends. They get mad at each other really easy and love cursing at each other. It just didn’t seem like a group of friends that are going to try to weather the apocalypse together. Their friendships are starting to fall apart for different reasons which is really interesting, but I wished we had seen their relationships in a better light at the beginning to make the disconnect even greater. I loved the art too as it fits the tone of the book perfectly. I’m ecstatic that this is an ongoing book, and I cannot wait for next month’s issue.
The Bunker is quite the debut. The narrative voice is incredibly strong, but I’m not sure it’s being applied in the right spots. This is a comic written by someone who knows exactly what his story is, and where it’s going to end (possibly because its end is tied so closely to the beginning). Fialkov is one of those guys that’s been quietly making really high-quality comics for a long time, and he’s been writing scripts even longer than that, so I don’t doubt that he knows how to construct a story. My problem with this issue is that it doles out its information in an order that... doesn’t quite land with me. I got tied up pretty often going “wait, what just happened? Who is this? Why do all these people live in this house? Are they collegians?” Etc.
The art has a good, rough quality to it that serves it well, but it also makes it a little tougher to differentiate between characters, especially when it jumps back and forth to the future. Infurnari is working with a pretty limited color palette as well, with a lot of earthier tones. In some places, it works really well; in other places, it makes the comic look sort of flat.
The bottom line is that I wanted to like this issue a lot more than I did. I’ll check in for the next couple issues, but Fialkov and Infurnari haven’t quite won me over. I want to believe, though.
Originally, I wasn’t going to jump on this group review. When I first flipped through its pages, it looked like too dense and too dull a story for me to get involved with, at least analytically. But then I actually gave it a shot and read the damn thing, and that’s all it took to get me hooked.
The premise of The Bunker basically sees a gaggle of friends discover a reverse time capsule filled with intensely heavy news from their future selves about how they will all work together to effectively end the world, not to mention their relationships with each other as they stand in the present. Told mostly through those notes, this story immediately sucked me in with a dizzyingly complex bounce between ages.
Unfortunately, it does this at the cost of sometimes confusing the reader, and is very often repetitious in the group’s suspicions and catty in-fighting. That almost made me make this a “borrow” rather than a “buy.” After more thinking, however, I have to recommend this as a series to get involved with, because I think it’s take on 12 Monkeys meets Stephen King’s It will be an interesting one to see develop under the hands of Joshua Hale Fialkov, whose stuff elsewhere has been hit or miss for me, but here seems more capable.
The art by Infurnari is frantic and sketchy with a traditional sort of flare, and benefits from a restrained color scheme and tone, making me immediately want to compare it to Matt Kindt’s style, though much more defined (not that that’s a good or bad thing). The art is actually one of the reasons I almost put it down, and then what made me fall for the book even harder later. Altogether, it completes The Bunker as a pretty cool package that I’m looking forward to, like its protagonists, opening over time.
Bunker reminds me of a great movie that you have to watch again just too fully understand everything that is going on in the movie. Once you get what is going on you really appreciate it; that is exactly what The Bunker feels like.
I like how in issue one the writer takes his time to explain what is happening. The story telling method used in the comic is very good; I like that the writer gives the story through the letters that the group of friends find and through their dialogue between each other as well. The time travel scenes were perfectly executed, thanks to the help of the narration of the letters the future panels don’t feel force they transition the story perfectly. There is ton of character development on this first issue; people’s lives are changed from their discoveries, and even though the letters were meant as a way to stop what is going to happen in the future it feels like the letter does the complete opposite leaving you wondering if these friends will do the right thing in the end.
The art in the issue is great. Nice use of the colors, I like how in the present the artist uses the blues to represent the hope that the friends have, and then the artist switches to darker colors, greens and browns to depict the future and the hopelessness that their future might bring. I loved how they go back and forth with their color usage to represent the time period that they were in the book. It works perfectly. Overall a very solid first issue, 40 pages filled with great story telling, character development, and great usage of art.
The Bunker is an interesting read. There’s part of me that finds the concept, the sheer idea of it, to be wonderful. It really is an idea that fills you with intrigue. The characters are complicated and upon learning that they’ll bring about the end of life on the planet their tightly knitted group falls apart… no that’s inaccurate; they’re group explodes as if a grenade were thrown into the very bunker that starts the story.
That’s what drew me and kept me reading, the premise of “can you change the future when you already know the outcome?” Seemingly this group of friends is torn on the idea and while some of them just go along with the letter that their future selves send, the others have a far more complicated reaction to it.
My problem with The Bunker is actually everything that takes place in the future timeline. We’re never given any structure to the time line that we’re seeing in the future as it mainly relates to what the characters are dealing with in the present while reading their letter. Because of this we see these future characters bouncing all over and so it makes it difficult to grasp what’s happening in the future outside of what’s specifically outlined in the narration which is “you will end the world, but if you don’t it will be worse.”
What makes this story interesting is seeing the characters in the present fight with the letters from their future selves. The problem is that I don’t see it staying this way past the first issue which would cause me to lose interest rather quickly. I didn’t find any enjoyment in the future storyline, but without a visit forward we can’t simply stay in the past. This issue is a “buy”, but I can see the second issue becoming a “borrow” easily.
Score: 4 Buys and a Borrow
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov Artist: Joe Infurnari Publisher: Oni Press Price: $3.99 Release Date: 2/12/14