It’s no secret that the entertainment industry is bloated with post-apocalyptic stories. From the enormous popularity of The Walking Dead TV show, to numerous movies, books, comics, and video games, there’s really not much room for expansion or growth upon this idea. Luckily, writer Ed Brisson decided to turn this concept on its head in Sheltered with a cover boasting “A Pre-Apocalyptic Tale.” Instead of a few nimble individuals traversing through cities wearing zombie guts to get a few canned goods, there’s a pretty normal community of “preppers” (the community is entitled Safe Haven) that are diligently preparing for the end of the world. Safe Haven’s members are also clearly untrusting of the government, as they live in a trailer park off the grid and are prepared for an attack at a moment’s notice. The way the world will end, however, is uncertain. Nuclear war is mentioned, as are severe magnitude 7 earthquakes.
In the first two issues, a lot has happened. Newcomer Victoria befriends a girl named Hailey (both of whom are depicted on the front cover of this issue). At the same time as Vic and Hailey go out for a walk in the woods, and all the parents of Safe Haven are murdered. We learn that all of the youth of Safe Haven were in on the plan, except for Hailey and Victoria. They were led by a boy named Lucas, who we see on the standard cover for issue one. Even Hailey’s own brother Mitch was in on the coup. Issue #2 shows Vic’s defiance, and she and Hailey end up escaping to a bunker. On the way, Hailey gets her foot caught in a deer trap. They make it to the bunker, and Vic picks up a pistol in the last panel of the book.
Sheltered #3 picks up right where we left off in last month’s issue. We see Lucas burning something in an oil drum, we’ll find out exactly what that is later. I love how this book shifts focus, but still captures the thoughts of the kids in Safe Haven as they tie in the story. For example, we see Tab and Chris talking. Tab freaked out last issue about killing their parents, and in this issue she’s questioning Lucas’s leadership. Chris tries to reassure her that Lucas wouldn’t ask them to kill their parents if it wasn’t necessary, but by the end of their conversation he doesn’t seem too faithful in Lucas either.
We then see Hailey and Vic. They’re still in the bunker and Hailey has a bandage around her ankle from the accident. She is also still getting fevers, so Vic goes out to try and get a radio, cell phone, or computer-anything that could communicate to the outside world to get help. At this point, we start to see the disarray that the youth of Safe Haven are in. An older boy tells two younger kids who are playing video games that they need to ration the food, but they jump him and beat him up pretty badly. It seems that they only trust Lucas, they can’t be bothered by anyone else.
While Vic is sneaking around the trailers, she ends up running into Lucas. He explains to her that they only have 18 months’ worth of supplies, so they needed to cut their population in half-so killing their parents was necessary. He thinks he has everything figured out: underneath Yellowstone Park there’s a volcano that’s about to erupt. When it does, there’ll be a volcanic winter across North America, and they’ll have to live underground for three years. Vic says he’s an idiot and there have been earthquakes every day. She’s been beating Lucas with her gun this whole time, and finally another kid comes in and sees this. They chase Vic back to where she came from in the bunker, and Lucas starts his speeches to the kids.
He’s a compulsive liar, much like the Governor from The Walking Dead. He tries to play innocent and seems like he has the best intentions for everyone, where he’s really just fueled by his own personal greed. He says that Vic and Hailey are a threat to their own survival, so they have to die. He has people guard the trailer that they’re in, two people inside and two people outside so they can’t leave. At the very end of the issue we see Chris find the drum, which Lucas was burning the radios and other communication devices.
I already own the first two issues, so I was very much looking forward to this issue. I have to say, it didn’t have those pushing-the-envelope moments like #1 when the parents were killed or #2 when it looked like Vic was getting ready to go kill Lucas, but I can tell that this was a build-up issue. I’m a huge fan of this creative team (especially since they’re relatively unknown as of now, but that won’t last long), so I trust they know where they’re going with the story.
Johnnie Christmas (what an awesome name) did a phenomenal job with the art on this one. His artwork compliments the way this book is written: it’s beautiful, but at times very dark and twisted. Every drawing is interesting and necessary, there aren’t any wasted panels. He makes you not have to fill in what happened by picturing it in your head, every scene he depicts makes you feel like you’re right there with the characters. The color work by Shari Chankhamma is excellent as well, just by glancing at the cover you can get a feel of what you’re in for as far as the art goes.
I’ll definitely be picking this up; I’m looking forward to knowing where the story goes after this issue as well.
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Johnnie Christmas
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: 9/4/13