Even though there was very little press about this series, the first issue hit hard. It was a terrific new series that took a look at the apocalyptic future and the dwindling supply of natural resources in a different way. Rather than a Mad Max inspired world of cars and gasoline fights, we’ve taken to the skies. It’s such a cool concept that it’s hard not to get sucked into the world. For me the strongest thing about this series has been the characters. The characters shine in this issue and the creative team takes some nods from other apocalyptic stories lines. Because the characters are so rich, it makes the ending of this issue all the more heartbreaking. I’m not going to tell you what happens, but it was like a knife in the heart.
The issue begins just after the ending of the last issue. Cola is talking to her mother and through their conversation they give us the layout of the plot. Cola’s mom knows that they are being hunting and that The Judge is coming for them like his life depends on it. They talk a bit about Tug and discus his training which begins early the next day. That’s where we travel next as we find Scram throwing a bag of gear at him. Through this scene we learn what being a “gun” is all about which is basically using a jet pack to fly around and take out enemy planes and then jump on to friendly planes. Tug is excited for breakfast, but they inform him of the training rules: no breakfast and no meeting the rest of the ship in case you don’t come back.
We check in with the Judge as he drops in to check on the last mine under his control. As he suspected they’ve tapped out and so the Judge cuts the mining town off. The leader of the town protests, but the Judge informs him that they have room for thirteen people and four children. Now it’s up to their leader to decide who among the 327 people get to continue to live and who will be left to fend for themselves. We jump back to Tug’s training as Cola makes sure to make it hard for him. After a prep talk from Scram he’s booted off the side and actually touches the plane for the first time… but doesn’t manage to stay on.
The really touching moment in this is when Tug sits down with the kids of the ship and watches Bambi. I know that Bambi is an easy target for tears, but think about it. This is a grown man who has likely never seen a movie and sure as hell hasn’t seen Bambi. He becomes entranced with it the way a child would, but it’s how the other characters respond to him that’s really terrific. The writing was solid in this issue from start to finish. Though the dialog is ripe with information about the world, it works because of Tug’s inexperience. We’re going through the world with him and though we’re privy to other conversations it still gives us that starting point each issue.
The art is fantastic. The planes are beautiful even in this gritty dark world. The scenes without dialog are definitely the strongest and by far the scene with Tug watching Bambi is my favorite. Even though I hated the ending, it was visually a powerful scene. Also I didn’t hate it because it was poor in quality, I hated it because of what it brought to the story, but I know that it will have results that are worth reading in future issues.
I really think that a lot of people are missing out on this series due to how quite the coverage has been on it. I think it’s one of the top books that IDW is publishing and frankly a very different take on the apocalyptic genre. There may not have been any dogfights in this issue, but they’re coming; they’re coming in a big way. Don’t miss out on this series.
Story: Mike Raicht, Zach Howard, Austin Harrison
Script: Mike Raicht
Artist: Zach Howard
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: 7/24/13