Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Patrick Kindlon
Artwork: Stefano Simeone
Letters: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Release Date: 9th October 2019
I worked in retail for over ten years so when I saw the pitch for this new AfterShock Comics series by Patrick Kindlon and Stefano Simeone, I was immediately paying attention. In a future world where globalisation and the free market consumer economy have been extrapolated out to almost comic (or perhaps depressing) extremes, store security is a big deal. Instead of the typical mall rent-a-cop trope we’ve been sold to this point, we instead have an almost Judge Dredd style guard – judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one.
If the story was either a gritty political take or dark satire, I would be happy with its direction. Unfortunately, for me at least, SWBL seemed to walk the line of a more traditional sci-fi mystery. Sure, there’s elements of humour and you can’t help but infer certain ideas from what’s on display here, it just didn’t land well with me personally. The danger of expectation, I suppose. Now that’s not to say I wasn’t entertained. This is a fairly solid first issue which leans into office politics, as well as providing a depressing look at the potential dangers of under regulated gun control.
Simeone’s art throughout lends a lot of emotional weight to the story. Where it would have been an easy trap to fall into garish advertisements and the bold colours and neons of mass consumerism, these muted visuals are almost numbing and sterile. After many a long shift this really speaks to me. I would say however there’s a real mix of claustrophobia and then almost paradoxically emptiness contrasting a lot of the panels, and both this huge shopping complex and the world around it seem strangely quiet.
There are plenty of good ideas in here, and the beginnings of what could be an intriguing new series. For me though, the story and pace just never seemed to click into gear. The reveal at the end left me unsure of where this is heading, and it feels like it could be quickly moving away from the original premise.