July 27, 2018

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Kirk's Take: The New World #1 by Ales Kot, Tradd Moore, and Heather Moore


The New World #1
Written by Ales Kot
Illustrated by Tradd Moore
Colors by Heather Moore
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Design by Tom Muller
Published by Image Comics

I'm not going to do a summary of the story, since James already did. But let's dig into what we see, because this book demanded a second reading the moment I finished the last page. And so I did. 


If you do, too, you may roll your eyes on the second run through of the issue when you pause and it dawns on you that the aging Millennial dad explaining that his son Kirby is “a straight-edge gluten-free militant atheist son!” is for the sake of exposition to catch us all up on one of our main characters. Or that in the very near future, 5 nuclear warheads ignite over the skies of the United States without any country or terrorist sect claiming responsibility for the attacks that now divide the US into new separate territories. But that’s just how life is in this world. Kot has embraced speculative fiction with his last round of books recently (Days of Hate, Generation Gone) and now Kot is writing from a place of researched history and commentary of where our current cultural climate could be heading. A generation committed to Earth-conscious lifestyle choices to save what’s left of an exhausted planet and a nuclear-bomb revolution are indeed, very possible outcomes. 


Bummer.

This is all easy to overlook because the line art duties are handled by Tradd Moore (the Luthor Strode series of books) and there’s no mincing words here. It’s next-level. Not since Fiona Staples have we seen an artist that was already bringing something new to the game that was also growing their style so quickly. Moore has delved deeper into his study of simple line work and how varying degrees of thick and thin boarders on flat, simple backgrounds make for perceived dizzying depth in each panel. 


There’s also a patience to Moore’s work here that hasn’t been seen in his previous projects. He’s figured out how to throttle back and let body language convey what’s going on in the moment to the reader as opposed to cramming as much movement as possible onto every page. Along with Heather Moore’s excellently vibrant color pallet (this really has been the year of the colorists for comics and no one’s noticed it yet) that injects just the right amount of vertigo, throwing you off balance for the next series of panels that follow. It’s an amazingly effective, if subtle trick. Decaying cityscapes that still beckon. Futuristic character designs of practical application. Moore’s Jack Kirby and Moebius influences are trading blows for supremacy. I don’t know who’ll win, but it’s making for one hell of a fight.

Stella Marris is the Granddaughter of the President of New California. If that type of privilege wasn’t enough, she’s also treated as a Rockstar by the public as one of the most popular Guardians on a reality TV show where she hunts down suspects in heavy armor for an audience that gets to choose the fate of the victim through live polling. Think The Running Man meets American Idol with the premise of Dog the Bounty Hunter (I need a shower after typing 2/3 of that description). Her relationship with the public is enigmatic. She doesn’t give her audience the bloodshed they crave and is praised for it. Yet, Stella also represents the police state that she serves while simultaneously giving the public hope for being anti-authoritarian. She’s represents everything Kirby hates. Too bad he didn’t realize who Stella was when they bathroom-bang at a club. Now Kirby is the next suspect that Stella must hunt down on her reality deathmatch show. Time to give this a third read before issue 2.