Review: Deluge #1

Many of our systems, our strictures, and our structures -- they simply don't work well. Our banks fail. Our safety nets blow away in the wind. Our relationships fade. Our jobs get pulled out from beneath our feet. And sometimes our protectors are a true threat to our well-being. When the wrong people are put in positions of power, the powerless eventually push back. And when the right people are surrounded by rough circumstances, ideals get truly tested. Deluge explores the power of institutions -- legal, illegal, religious, or social. And in twenty-three pages, Deluge does more to discover the inherent weaknesses of these systems than many books do during large multi-issue arcs.

Deluge-#1-1Most of us can forget the fragile build quality of the boundaries we erect to keep out the madness and confusion of our world. We ignore how easily things can get ugly. And some of us turn against each other when the time comes to huddle together. That's what Deluge seems to be about. It's about the ways in which humans struggle to sculpt order into the chaos of their universe. And in Deluge, a violent catalyst rises from the chaos, forcing the various residents of New Orleans to either rely upon or abandon the flawed systems built to serve the public. Those systems are human and dependent on logic and predictable -- or, at least, expected -- behaviors. Any amount of dysfunction spreads. It corrupts. It corrodes.

Hurricane Katrina busts open already weakened restraints and it lets the chaos in.

Thankfully writer J.D. Oliva also shows that there are good people working within our systems. Very few good people, sure. But they are extant. Our characters are rushing through the disaster of Katrina at a rate that enhances the pervasive sense of frantic desperation. The book's perspective changes abruptly and with dramatic impact, revealing details of earlier events. Through that retroactive context, our two protagonists in issue one seem to be confronting the disillusionment of their idealism. The systems they believed in are failing to live up to their personal standards and expectations.

Small bits of Deluge's dialogue feel a little forced. Some of the white cops in particular are really grotesque caricatures. With very few exceptions they're bible verse spewing, gun-toting, racist straw men. The lack of subtlety is unfortunate and I hope subsequent issues humanize our antagonists a bit better. Hurricane Katrina should be the villain, a random and uncaring agent of that chaos I mentioned. I, as a reader, don't need to be convinced to dislike psychotic bigots. Though it will be difficult but not impossible to make these characters seem reasonable or relatable, Oliva seems like the kind of writer to pull it off.

Deluge immediately captures your attention and doesn't slow its pace or tension until you've turned the final page. Oliva's approach to story-telling allows for rapid, energizing forward momentum. There aren't many moving parts to this drama, but Deluge operates them all in accord.

Score: 4/5

Deluge #1 Writer: J.D. Oliva Artist: Richard P. Clark Publisher: Infinity Comics Price: $0.99 Release Date: 2/12/14 Format: Mini-Series; Digital