A Fearful Apocalypse in Avatar Press’ “Crossed Badlands #70” REVIEW
Written by: David Lapham
Art by: Francisco Manna
David Lapham and Francisco Manna create a fairly fearful apocalyptic Earth. A riff on the zombie apocalypse theme, Crossed Badlands #70 finds the band of ‘heroes’ boarding a Naval vessel and (literally) heading for the hills… Or rather an isolated island. While the themes in this issue resonate with some of my favorite fictional thematic twists, a lot of it feels contrived and artificial.
There are some definite story-telling and art problems in this issue. The most prominent one is that on several occasions, characters are rendered without pupils. While it appears strangely cool, it was clearly not intentional, and breaks any feeling of disbelief that I had suspended before opening the book or turning a page. My other nit on Manna’s art is that his depiction of the US ships in the harbor and how they behave is just a stone’s throw too far off. In one panel, all of the ships are mingled near each other in such proximity that none of them would have avoided hitting something. I do like other aspects of the artwork. The ships are clearly modeled differently, to the point where you can actually identify many of the combatants by real-world ship class. Nice trick, that.
Lapham weaves a pretty decent tale, but there is a healthy warehouse of easily reachable clichés to support this story, and that is a problem. The overall story is one that has been told many times over. I am not sure that there are too many different ways to tell it. So kudos to Lanham for his construction of the overall world, which is large and just chock-full of script and arc elements to pick from. The problem is that most of those branches will be things that have already been done before. It is a very locked-box plot-line that does not offer a lot of opportunities for innovative arcs that might feel fresh and new.
In this issue we are kind of presented a Water World-Mad Max -Walking Dead mash-up. Again, the main problem here is that every story element presented can seemingly be traced back to another work of fiction that had a similar setup and covered that ground already. This is not a bad book. I just cannot put my finger on anything that makes it remarkable or, really, even unique from something else that has not been done, and done better. If you are looking for great non-super hero comics, there are others. If you are a dyed in the wool fan of post-apocalyptic or zombie apocalypse plot content, this might be in your wheelhouse. I would say you might want to hold out for something better.