Advance Review – Cold War #1 (AfterShock Comics)

Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artwork: Hayden Sherman
Release Date: 14th February 2018

Cryogenic freezing.  The ability to experience life after death by having your head frozen until technology is advanced enough for you to be rebuilt, free from restraints like death and disease.  But what would happen if, when the time finally came for you to be woken up, you instead found yourself having a gun thrust into your hand and being forced to fight in a war you know nothing about?  Well, that’s exactly what we’re about to find out in Cold War, a brand new AfterShock Comics series from writer Christopher Sebela and artist Hayden Sherman, on sale this February.

Sebela’s premise is smart and his writing is sharp, although there are a few oddly jarring comic asides that feel a little out-of-place alongside the main narrative. The supporting cast are one-note cannon fodder for the most part, but the time Sebela invests into introducing the main players is definitely worthwhile – for the most part, anyway.

That said, some of the more darkly comic moments do provide genuine highlights, such as the inappropriate advice provided by the on-board computers the soldiers find themselves wearing.  Advice like “It appears you’ve witnessed a traumatic event.  Would you like to view a short montage of your happiest moments in life instead?”

The herky-jerky narrative style helps to underscore the chaos of the situation, and Sherman’s frantic and untidy artwork only emphasises just how wildly out of control things really are once the boots hit the ground.  I’ve been a fan of Sherman since I first discovered his work on The Few, and his scratchy style – while possibly not to everyone’s tastes – feels tailor-made for a title like this.

Everything is wild and disorienting, with the several of the more abstract panels warranting double-takes as we try to figure out exactly what the hell we just witnessed.  As I said, it all really works well alongside the tone of the story, with the reader frequently feeling every bit as shell-shocked as the reluctant soldiers thanks to Sherman’s boldly unconventional visual style.

Things progress nicely (if that’s the right word) throughout the course of the issue, providing us with a captivating protagonist and a suitably intriguing situation.  However, that’s clearly not enough for Sebela who decides to throw in a major-league curveball near the end, shaking things up significantly and effectively turning this into an entirely different series with one single panel.  Well played, sir.  Well played.

A strong opening issue then, as Sebela’s elevator pitch of a story is executed to near perfection, although it’s definitely going to be interesting to see just what happens as the series unfolds – particularly given the aforementioned curveball – and how well it’s going to hold the reader’s interest as the novelty of the premise gradually wears off.

That said, Sebela and Sherman are a creative team I have full confidence in, and I know that whatever direction they do decide to take this relentlessly inventive new series, I’m going to be on board for the long haul.  It’s confusing and unconventional, both narratively and artistically, but there’s no denying the fact Cold War is a new series that flat-out demands your attention.

Rating: 4.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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