Sean Maher's Quality Control

Monday, March 06, 2006

Review: War of the Worlds - Second Wave #1

Ah, the monthly sales figures from Diamond. The usual round of "Hey, how come nobody else buys my favorite book(s)?" The unstoppable entropy of the direct market continues its inexorable promenade of peril.

But wait! What's that? It's another Robert Kirkman book actually gaining readers as it goes on!

Somebody's gotta figure out how to bottle whatever it is that guy does. Seriously.


Way back in December, I noticed the Boom! Studios solicitation for War of the Worlds: Second Wave #1.

Well, the issue came out last week and I made sure to pick it up. It's pretty damn good.

Writer Michael Alan Nelson brings a rapid-fire, feint-and-dodge style to the script beats, each page moving the story forward with a propulsive force that keeps the reader jumping from foot to foot - it's never so disorienting that we're unable to follow what's happening, but it does a great job of placing us in the characters' world, bringing the panic to us on a visceral level.

This sense of panic leads our lead character, Miles, to make a huge mistake that hits hard and leaves him a damaged hero at the issue's close. We can understand exactly why he makes the decision he does, even as the horrific consequences of his choice suddenly become clear. Comparisons are already being made between this series and Kirkman's The Walking Dead, and it's in this respect in particular that those comparisons are apt: our heros may be their own worst enemies. Just as TWD's Rick slowly crumbles underneath the pressures of his new life and the flaws in his approach to coping, Miles has been grievously harmed by a combination of the invasion disaster and his own instincts in response. The ground is layed, then for the character to face a number of challenging personal arcs, and I'm curious to see what advantage Nelson will take of this.

That said, there's plenty of aliens blowing shit up and looking crazy and being hit by tanks and all kinds of cool shit like that. I noticed artist Chee when he worked with Steve Niles on the recent Fused! Tales anthology. The kineticism of his style there is alive and well here, and his "direction" is great - the choice of shot angles and perspectives, and the use of empty space in some panels, really enhances the action sequences of the second half of the issue, bringing that visceral quality of the script onto the visual page.

I'm also impressed with Matt Webb's colors here, which strike an unusual middle ground between being clean and sharp and being grim and dark. The palettes he chooses are rich and satisfying, without overwhelming Chee's linework.

I've been enjoying Boom! books in general, but this is where I think they've really stepped up their game. If the book can maintain this kind of gravitas and momentum, it's gonna win a lot of fans, and quickly so. It's already on my pull list.

For those interested, there is an interview with Nelson at CBR here, and a six-page preview (with minor spoilers of the last half of the issue) on Newsarama here (the page above is taken [and shrunk] from said preview).


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