Category Archives: Dystopias

Review: ‘The Sunderland Volume One: Schism’ by Jon Renzella and Eric Weiss

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The Sunderland Volume One: Schism” is the first in an epic trilogy of graphic novels set in a dystopian world. It will be followed by “Solitude” and “Thermidor.” This is quite an ambitious work and I salute, artist Jon Renzella and writer Eric Weiss, the talent behind this 450-page book of black and white woodcuts and text.

From the introduction:

Society is fractured. Life for most is a desperate struggle. Natural Resources are scarce and the discovery of a miracle source of new, clean energy only serves to deepen the cracks. As the planet reaches breaking point, the sudden appearance of two mysterious pillars…

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It’s a very intense and vivid world that Renzella and Weiss have created. If you enjoy comics with a social commentary bite to them, then this is something you’ll want to check out. The creators of this book live and work in Taiwan and so it is interesting to keep that in mind as a subtext.

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The Green movement is in disarray. The average citizen doesn’t stand a chance. And the Petrolol corporation just keeps chugging along. The narrative can be rather dense at times and so can the artwork, but it grows on you. This is a byzantine journey crowded with numerous characters confronting chaotic and enigmatic challenges. There is no hero. There is no clear resolution in sight. The story just is. But out of that jungle we find numerous graceful and poetic moments.

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“Schism: The Sunderland, Volume One” is published by Lei Press and printed in Taiwan. It is available through Jon Renzella’s website. You can find it right here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, China, Comics, Comix, Dystopian Fiction, Dystopias, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Self-Published, Taiwan

THE MASSIVE #13 Review

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Brian Wood’s “The Massive” takes on Manhattan in Issue 13. And we are off to an awesome start with cover art by J.P. Leon.

I saw “World War Z” over the weekend and, while I hesitate to make much of any comparisons, it is safe to say that “The Massive” is going to deliver for you that dystopian fix in a more substantial way than this movie. Now, I did enjoy the movie but it was more about action than delving into a world on a deep level. As is too often the case, I assume you’ll find a more coherent plot in the novel. “The Massive” manages quite nicely to geek out a fully realized world in a comic book format and leaves you ready for even more details.

You can say that Mr. Wood has taken these dystopian tropes around the block a few times already but he seems to always be good for a new take on them. “The Massive” has so far been moving along steadily and convincingly. It’s doing what its reader base expects and it won’t disappoint new readers.

In the first of a three-issue story, “Americana,” we find the crew of The Kapital, the ramshackle vessel on its valiant journey in a post-everything world, on the heels of a baddie in a submarine. He’s made his way to what is left of Manhattan, which is nothing. The Kapital’s captain asks the punk chick on board for advice, since it is assumed she’s a city rat steeped in secret knowledge. She asks him if going to see a show and then crashing on some guy’s couch qualifies as valuable intel and then gives him a kindly smirk.

Garry Brown does a beautiful job of bringing out the gritty reality of seeing one of the great cities on the planet reduced to a heap of flooded and useless junk. Grim and intense coloring, by Jordie Bellaire, and urgent and blunt lettering by Jared K. Fletcher, punctuate the data that ensues throughout, urgent news like the nation’s capital has been forced to relocate to higher ground in Denver. Cut off from the military, vital intel, and basic infrastructure, the nation’s capital is on very shaky ground. Yeah, this is geeked-out dystopian fun.

“The Massive #13” is out on June 26. If you’ve been considering checking out “The Massive,” this is an excellent jumping on point. Visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics.

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Filed under Brian Wood, Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, Dystopian Fiction, Dystopias