Written by, Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Illustrated by, Flaviano
Colored by, Miguel Muerto
Lettered by, Jim Campbell
Reviewed by, Tom Zimm
The issue begins with a group of young people on a bus heading west on I-40 West who are part of the “refugee relocation program” and on their way to San Francisco. The narrative explains that America is at war and on the lookout for “Tommy Tango”, the enemy, who appears to have infiltrated the fabric of the country. Large parts of the continental U.S. are impacted: the Midwest is dust bowl; “every oil rig” in Texas is on fire, needless to say, conditions are grim. Within this context, our young band of diverse occupants first lose the bus when it runs out of fuel, then make their way through perilous conditions while being attacked when they end up at the end of the line in “Duster’s Wake.” The story is filled with young heroes working together as a team for survival, a small hint at the supernatural, and issues of diversity. This is a fun romp filled with mystery and intrigue.
The entertainment value lies in the writer’s willingness to contextualize the young people with cultural diversity, emotional needs, and personal tragedy. While these topics are frequently tackled in some books, I found this story interesting due to its blunt approach and the organic way the writer developed a dilemma that requires them to work together for their own survival. Protagonists and antagonists are aplenty and the mystery comes in the form of a mysterious heroine and the supernatural abilities of a couple of the members. The art is clean yet creates a gritty aesthetic that fits the environment for the story. While the perils are real, the interesting thing for me is seeing these young people put collaboration and teamwork ahead of ego and racial bias in a way that our current culture would do well to follow. I highly recommend this book to both young readers and grizzled veterans of the comic book genre. Overall = 9