“Chaos and Profit”
Writer(s): Scott Chitwood, Paul Ens
Artist(s): Wayne Nichols, Nick Schley (i), Marc Hampson (c), Andrew Dalhouse (c)
Publisher: Red 5 Comics
EDITOR’s NOTE: Afterburn #1 will be available in stores this January and is currently available for pre-order.
Exclamation: “That Mona Lisa is a man, baby!”
Explanation: In a post semi-(solar)-apocalyptic time, people pay good money to obtain pieces of artwork (seemingly) lost in the hell-side i.e. the part of the earth hit by a massive solar flare. Jake, the main protagonist as well as the narrator of the story, is one such treasure hunter cum looter. Together with his teammates, he gets, well, whatever the client wants. From a private buyer to bureaucratic survivors of a flare-hit country, as long as the price is good, the treasure hunters will get it. In this installment, we also get to see Jake and his pals in action, both against mutated survivors of the apocalyptic half as against other treasure seekers. It is in the course of one such mission that the issue reaches its cliffhanger ending with Jake and a fellow teammate about to become midday snacks for a couple of mutated sharks.
Examination: ‘Oh, yet another post-apocalyptic story!’ That was my first reaction at Afterburn #1. Starting with Image’s Last Christmas, this is probably the twelfth post-apocalyptic story that I have read in the last few months. Take zombies out of the equation and the number goes down to just below half, but even at five it is still a pretty big number. Five stories with the destruction of mankind (of the non undead kind) as the basic premise driving it! As with any other genre/setting there needs to be something new, something different for a story to stand up and apart, to make a lasting place in the readers’ mind. So, does Afterburn have something different going for it?
Yes…hmm, at least in premise.
For one instead of the whole Earth it is only half of it that goes to Hell and beyond. Still, as much as this idea intrigued me I would have liked if the survivors were from a region other than one falling in the path of least resistance. That the Americas are exempted from the destructive solar flare while Asia, Europe and Africa are all but obliterated (or worse), well, it seems a bit too convenient. This setting could be because of the creative team’s familiarity with he geographical and demographical setting, not to mention the target audience, but seen from another angle it seems to close for comfort to some rather unsavory thoughts and viewpoints. I can all but see the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells coming out of the woodwork about how this is God smiting the non-believers or whatever is their latest ‘in’ term is for those who don’t fall under their definition of God’s own (children). And for anyone thinking that I am blowing it out of proportion just take a gander at Rev. Falwell’s comment about the WTC plane bombing i.e. the cause of it.
Nevertheless, the good thing about my opening rant is that once I got past it the story experience swings upwards. Oh sure I would loved to have something more/other than the token female or Jake having more depth than that of an adrenaline junkie with more bravado than redneck brains, but most of it is a fair exchange for seeing mutated sharks. Now if it were mutated sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads, that would be Austin Powers’ fanboy nirvana. Yeah baby! Still, even with the corny clichéd elements going in, the story still manages to read like an action movie in the making, even if it has just about the same plot depth. If it gains in that last part it could be blockbuster, yet it has an equal chance of being a fizzler if it doesn’t. This goes double for the secret of the case that Jake and party are after.
Moving onto the visuals; although not particularly mind-blowing the artwork of Afterburn has more than enough to tell its story. While on one side the character interaction (talking) moments do tend to come across as a bit too wooden, it more than made up for by the action scenes’ fluidity. Ditto for the backgrounds. As for the coloring, it would have benefited from more lively hues. Still, no major problems with the way it is now.
Proclamation: Will give Afterburn one more go with the hope that it develops enough plot and character depth so as not to make me regret my choice.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at http://www.xcave.net
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