Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Jonas Scharf
Release Date: 25th January, 2017
And so we reach the finale of Warlords of Appalachia, as reluctant revolutionary and family man Kade Mercer wages war on the occupying American forces who kidnapped his son Chess. Unfortunately however, after an exciting cliff-hanger at the end of the previous issue, the encounter between Chess and the “blueboys” doesn’t really seem to have any real pay-off here, serving merely as a transition from one issue to the next. Yes, writer Phillip Kennedy-Johnson’s world building throughout this series has been undoubtedly stellar, but moments like this make it seem like it might have been wiser to spend more time focusing on some of the primary characters rather than some vaguely supernatural, ultimately inconsequential menace.
One character who definitely doesn’t need any extra focus however is Kade Mercer, who remains a remarkably straightforward yet surprisingly compelling protagonist. Simply put, the man flat-out loves his family, and woe betide any man, army or United States President who threatens them in any way. Throughout the series, Kade has remained oddly detached from the events going on around him, seeming almost indifferent to the ripples caused by the actions that have seen him become a nationwide folk hero, and that approach continues here as he makes his true priorities crystal clear once again.
Visually, this is another pleasingly solid outing from artist Jonas Scharf, with expressive characters and smoothly flowing layouts throughout. The real highlight of this issue, and possibly of the series as a whole, is the satisfyingly brutal and almost entirely dialogue-free showdown between augmented cavalry leader Walker and Kade Mercer himself, which once helps to solidify the single-minded unrelenting violence of Kade’s devotion to his family.
Ultimately however, there’s a fine line between leaving your audience wanting more and failing to deliver a satisfying conclusion to a story, and it’s a line that Warlords of Appalachia comes perilously close to crossing here. If there’s going to be a follow-up series then I suppose the conclusion here may be a little more forgivable, but that’s never a guarantee in the world of comics, and I would personally have preferred more of a line drawn under the current situation rather than all the focus being on a fifth issue that may never arrive. As a self-contained story, this leaves way too many questions unanswered, but as a potential first step into a larger world, Warlords of Appalachia is undoubtedly a rich, enjoyable read.
If you want to find out more about Warlords of Appalachia, make sure to check out our interview with series writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson by CLICKING HERE.
[Click to Enlarge]