July 3, 2014

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Exit Generation #1 and #2

Exit Generation #1-2
Written by Sam Read
Illustrated by Caio Oliveira, Ruth Redmond, Marissa Louise and Ramon Villalobos
Edited by Adam Knave
Self-published 

Exit Generation is a new comic science fiction series from creator Sam Read and illustrated by Caio Oliveira (Super Ego). In your typical science fiction or horror story, if most if the world's population is gone, the world that's left is usually a dystopian nightmare. Exit Generation takes a different perspective, and these first two issues are a fun, engaging read that should be entertaining for older kids and grownups alike.
As the story begins, it's the year 2025 and things are pretty bad on Earth. The world is an overpopulated place, and famine, disease and war are rampant. It's decided that the only solution is to leave earth and find a new home out there (the "Exit"), so humanity builds giant ships over the next ten years.  The ships only have room for 95% of the world's population, so 5% are left behind. Unfortunately, things don't turn out so well for the people that leave, but the story's focus is on those that stay. 

We briefly see a glimpse of a man named Matthew, who leaves his pregnant wife Olivia behind on Earth. She's comforted by her friend Barni, also pregnant. The story moves ahead 20 years to 2055, and the world is a peaceful, quiet place. Once most of the world's population left, fighting and scarcity disappeared. There was enough food and resources for everyone. This has left some people bored and nostalgic for a more active, exciting time, such as Jack, who was the child Olivia was expecting. Jack soon gets his wish: There's a brief moment of hope that people have returned from space, but instead it's green, frog-like aliens (the Ruleians) who take a bunch of people with plans to eat them!

As the story picks up in the second issue, Jack and his friend Mo quickly make plans to go after the Ruleians, which is challenging since all of the pilots and astronauts are gone. There's a junk dealer they know of named Scrap who also happens to be an engineer and may have a ship. They make a barter with him (as cash is basically gone) to get his assistance in going after their family. 

While this is going on, the story moves to the kidnapped people. They're taken aboard the Ruleian mothership as prisoners (and eventually, dinner). The Ruleian leader explains to them how their race faced scarcity (as the humans did) but took a different approach - cannibalism (always the sensible option). This solved their overpopulation problem and since then they've expanded throughout the galaxy, finding new worlds and eating the inhabitants. As the story ends, Mo's family meets one (very large, intimidating) Ruleian who turns out to be not like the rest, and he makes them an offer of assistance. At the same time, Mo, Jack, Scrap and Hanna (who isn't so sure about Jack and Mo) head for the stars.

This is an entertaining series. The story here is straightforward and very engaging.  The creative team shows us how much Jack and Mo care for each other and how much Jack cares for Mo's family (and vice versa), and while this is a humorous, relatively lighthearted book, there's some real darkness. They're in this situation because society has gone to hell, most of humanity has faced a bad outcome, and some of the remaining people after years of peaceful living have been kidnapped by cruel aliens. The emotional moments feels sincere and not out of place, and the creative team does a good job balancing those moments with lighter, more humorous ones, such as the fact that what makes the Ruleian who wants to help Mo's family different (and big and imposing) is that he's a vegetarian - this also makes him an object of scorn in his society. 

There's also some thoughtful commentary here, as the book wisely notes that in a world where resources are plentiful relative to the population size, most people would probably choose to lead a pretty peaceful existence and create a more civil society (as opposed to descending into anarchy and barbarism). This non-dystopic vision of a depopulated Earth is a refreshing one.

The art here is similarly fun and approachable. There are bright colors and a sense of action and motion, fitting for an all-ages sci-fi adventure story. People are depicted in a slightly cartoony, exaggerated way, which allows for amusing and expressive facial acting (Hanna's displeasure at the fact that Scrap has taken in Jack and Mo is palpable and funny). The story moves sequentially in a way that makes sense and keeps the reader engaged. Various scenes (an alien world, the rocket launching) have a great sense of scale and scope. These are balanced with nicely detailed scenes inside Scrap's home or inside the alien prisons in which the people are placed. 

It's clear the creative team here has out a lot of work into this series. It feels like a professionally published book--it wouldn't look out of place at Boom!, IDW or Monkeybrain. They've taken the time to get it right, bringing in editorial review by Adam Knave (Amelia Cole), with great covers from Ramon Villalobos (What If: Age of Ultron, Original Sins). Obviously, not everyone can afford this additional expense, but one way to make it out of the "slush pile" of Artist's Alley (or Comixology Submit) is to show you're worth taking a chance on. Professional-looking covers and outside editing are an excellent way to do this. If you're interested in an entertaining and good-natured (as well as good looking) science fiction series, Exit Generation is worth seeking out.