Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Chris Ryall
Artist: Ashley Wood
Release Date: 30th March 2022
Excitedly advertised as being “back in print for the first time in over a decade”, this oversized compilation/anthology comic book certainly provides its audience with an intriguing origin story as to just how the Earth will become a post-apocalyptic battlefield of zombie-killing automatons. Indeed, Chris Ryall’s cleverly penned ‘chicken and the egg’ conundrum is well worth repeated readings as a trio of massively egotistical scientists stupidly decide to venture through a top secret, self-built portal into mankind’s future, and subsequently set into the motion the very fate which they were supposedly investigating in the first place; “You there! What happened to this building? To our society? When am I, anyway?”
Surprisingly though, it probably isn’t Fritz Winterbottom’s short-lived exploration of a cadaver-infested building, littered with the discarded debris of its former occupants, which is the most enthralling aspect of this previously-published three-parter. That honour goes to the excellently penned banter (or rather continuous criticism) which persistently takes place between the utterly unscrupulous inventors and the rather blasé way they all approach blindly crossing over into a truly deadly domain wearing nothing more than a cumbersome space-suit.
Furthermore, Ryall weaves a pretty engaging secondary story with “Circuits Of Death”, which pays a somewhat fleeting visit to Weird War One where the combatants fly bi-planes co-crewed with capsule-shaped robots. This particular four-page parable initially seems to be a tale of a dying pilot who, having fatally crash-landed, finally understands the destructive futility of the conflict surrounding him and resultantly yearns for his mechanical comrade to become a pacifist. However, Ryall ultimately provides this tale with a rather tongue-in-cheek twisted ending, when it is revealed that the automaton has actually injected his ‘fleshy’ master with a hallucinogenic serum to ease the mortally-wounded man’s suffering.
Adding plenty of visual quirkiness and occasional grisly violence to this comic’s proceedings is the somewhat scratchy-looking artwork of Ashley Wood. The award-winning illustrator’s style has arguably altered during the ten years separating this book’s two adventures, yet still does a solid job in depicting either Winterbottom’s billion-dollar iron suit with some all-too vulnerable glass eyeholes, and a revenge-seeking robotic navigator who fully intends to “now go kill every motherf**ker I see!”
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]