Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Ted Anderson
Artist: Nuno Plati
Letters: Joao Lemos, Mashall Dillon
Release Date: 10th April 2019
It’s twenty years in the future. Twenty years after some event has caused all the world’s adults to die, leaving the children – now grown up and with families of their own – to rebuild. There’s no petroleum (therefore no Mad Max shenanigans), no phones, no internet. Tech is essentially a distant memory and all that’s left are small communities trying to survive as best they can with horses and caravans. It’s a post-apocalyptic wild west comic which seems to pull together threads from Jeremiah to the Postman. And whilst I can’t rate the premise as overly original, it in no way detracts from the enjoyment I had reading this.
Every good story needs a beginning and, to paraphrase Princess Irulan, the beginning is a delicate thing. Writer Ted Anderson somehow manages to give the reader enough information in the first page to deliver the setting wholesale. We see two kids in the aftermath of the event, rushing home to tell their mother that something very bad has happened. Artist Nuno Plati captures the horror and immediacy of the situation by not labouring the point. We see damaged and smoking cars, no doubt the result of a crash, and a body on its side in the street.
Despite all of this, it appears eerily calm with slowly building tension and then the realisation as the pair open their front door to the scene in front of them. That’s it. That’s all we get as we switch to twenty years later. As a reader we get the chance for that spark of emotional connection to have it yanked away from us. It’s a delightfully annoying way to hammer home how impartial and widespread the effects of this event will be. Who these kids are doesn’t matter as they could be anybody and everybody. A single moment of tragic loss that would be felt across the world with monumental repercussions that take us to our story proper.
Without wanting to give too much away, this issue acts as a great opener. The mysterious stranger arriving unconscious on horseback. The mayor out to protect the farming community from the army of the Church. A new religion that has grown to explain the event of two decades past. All elements which build up to a brutal showdown that blows the story wide open, leaving it full of possibilities.
There’s an almost innocent feel to the visuals building up to the conclusion of this issue. We know there’s hardship, and the reality of hard toil and dirt without the comfort of our too easily taken for granted technology. It lulls us into a false sense of homely warmth and comfort, compounded by the sharing circles of the farmers, before unleashing brutality and the darker side of human survival, the desire for control.
Orphan Age is a story of connections and emotions. That’s not to say there isn’t action, indeed it seems likely there will be a lot to follow. What’s clever here is that this isn’t a quote-unquote “action comic”, especially given that some proponents of the genre often rely on action to drive a story rather than be led by it. Even the lettering follows suit, complimenting the quiet calm of the settlement before breaking out into full on western shoot-out complete with the clattering of hooves.
Being a fan of apocalypt-arama, I appreciate that I have a biased eye but I like what I see here. Ultimately this could go anywhere so it’s hard to judge or gauge the long-term appeal. However, with that said, there’s no better time to saddle up than at the beginning and I’m all for keeping an eye on this one.
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster