Statix Press/Titan Comics 2018
Written by Stephane Betbeder
Illustrated by Stephane Bervas
Coloured by Massimo Rocca
Translated by Jessica Burton
It’s 2021. Detroit has seceded from the United States and its citizens are under the control of a madman with extraordinary abilities. The only hope of retaking the city lies with four super powered children. But their powers come with a price – using them means ageing prematurely. Can they save the city before their powers use up their lives?
So first impressions are everything and it’s what makes a reader either put the book down or keep flipping through. So the opening here is utterly fantastic it’s got army people, high tech assault ready and some of the most amazingly detailed artwork. I will be honest I was kind of taken by surprise with this one and when I saw it was released this week I had to google it to see what it was about, and if I would want to review it. So the premise (above) sounded interesting and it’s from Statix and Titan which means European creators and I was gung ho!
Stephane’s writing here is really very good and I like how this is structured. From the advance of the invading forces to seeing the citizens of Detroit hiding and then contact which sets off that chain reaction which then flows throughout the issue. I think all the elements here that are used to keep the story moving forward are used with an expertise that is nice to see. There is also an incredibly nice working relationship between the two Stephane’s which makes for a beautiful story. The dialogue is used pretty exclusively to tell the story which then makes the characters their actions and reactions what moves everything. It really is an exceptionally good way of telling the story and it’s executed flawlessly.
I like that we focus on the kids who in my opinion have a very strong Akira vibe. Kids, psychic powers and anger management issues, yeah it has that feel to it without even coming close to being an homage or a take on it. There’s just something about it that makes see it and while it has that vibe for me it also has it’s own unique look, tone and feel that make it this incredibly different and odd story that will pull you in and leave you wanting more. The characterisation is amazing to see and I like how we are able to identify the characters and what function they perform as well as make you question a few things that is happening.
Now the interiors here are stunning. The attention to detail as we see being used through the manipulation of the varying weights in the linework is a sight to behold. There is an intricacy to some of this that you almost overlook in the backgrounds that really are beautiful. The sense of movement and the idea of feelings, emotions and being harried shine through the work here. The utilisation of page layouts is brilliant and the angles and perspective we see in the panels shows off one of the best eyes for storytelling that I've seen. Throw in Massimo’s colouring, use of light sources and the over effects he brings through his finishing ad it’s all pretty amazing when it coalesces.
So I like the idea that Detroit, of all places, cedes from the United States and with outdated technology and little in the way of resources has a warlord of its own running things. His connection to the mysterious Father and Father’s relationship to the United States all seem connected and a point of contention which fuels the desire to know more. It is like the more we learn the ore we want to know it’s a vicious cycle.
Then there are these kids who age as they use their abilities and are sent in to be assassin’s of said warlord. It is most certainly one of the most interesting plot-lines going on here and the way it’s handled is spectacular. I was afraid it would be creepy or wrong, and it kind of is but it’s done in such a way that you are fascinated by the prospect of them.
Smart, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable this is just a continuing reason why I keep telling everyone to read more European based work. This level of storytelling should be the standard in comics.