Written by Ed Brisson
Illustrated by Johnnie Christmas
Colors by Shari Chankhamma
Review by Mike Duke
Maybe it’s inevitable that every survival story about a group of people in the wilderness turns into either The Swiss Family Robinson or The Lord of the Flies. Issue one of Sheltered began as the trailers and bunkers version of the tree house that has everything, but by the end it turned very dark and very scary. It also introduced us to Victoria, who seems to be the voice of reason in a situation that most of us would consider a touch insane: she and her father have recently moved into a colony of doomsday preppers in some unnamed, snowy wilderness.
Shortly after we meet Victoria,however, she disappears, and the rest of issue one plays out to a shocking conclusion without her. What I couldn’t help thinking, though-after the last page had washed off of me a bit–was, “What will our voice of reason think of think of this?”
And that’s exactly where issue two picks up. Looking at a strict outline, not much happens in this issue. It’s a lot of talking and a lot of emotion. But, when you’ve got good characters, compelling visuals, and a nail-biting situation, sometimes talking is all you need. These first two issues leave us hurtling very quickly towards a violent confrontation between Lucas, the steadfast voice of the most passionate preppers, and Victoria, the character most identifiable to most of us here in civilization. The sword that hangs above the entire situation, however, is this: What if Lucas is right? What if the end, whatever end that happens to be, is coming, and what if everything he has done is in some way… justified?
Sheltered feels familiar–the excellent art and muted color palette makes it look like it was lifted from Fargo or Evil Dead. It has that sense of American rural noir like a Cohen brothers film or an episode of Breaking Bad. But, at the same time, it feels unique. It’s not a horror story, but the ideas in it are terrifying. And, most important for the medium, there is no sci-fi or fantasy twist–no cosmic villain, no time travel. At this point, there isn’t even a catastrophic event. It’s just people, and what people can do to each other when they are convinced that they are right. This is not a typical comic book story, and I for one am refreshed and ready for it.
Buy it! Sheltered feels like something special. The scope and tone of it harkens back to the first issues of The Walking Dead, both on an epic scale and on a personal one. This could be the book that ends up at or near number one on all the top 10 lists at the end of the year and the book that we are still talking about into 2014. This is comics writing at its very best, and I believe fans of the medium would be remiss to skip it.