Review: Sheltered #1

sheltered01_coverSo, the apocalypse is happening. Or maybe it has already happened. Either way, we’ve seen it. Right? Right. Sheltered is yet another attempt to hop onto the post/pre-apocalypse bandwagon; right off the bat I’ll tell you, Sheltered tries something new, which thankfully makes it stand out from the crowd a little bit.

(SOILERS) Issue #1 quickly sets the scene: a collection of trailers and small houses have been built in the snowy, mountainous wilderness somewhere in North America, probably in the United States (Obama is name checked). This community contains several families preparing for some kind of catastrophic event by building bunkers and gathering water and canned goods. We’re introduced to Victoria (who goes by Vic) and her father, the seeming protagonists, and how they deal with their neighbors. Soon enough, the narrative jumps to two kids, Lucas and Joey, who have been planning a coup, and then successfully murder all of the adults. Probably. Everything is a little unclear.

Therein lies the blessing and curse of the first issue of Sheltered. It sets up an interesting kind of Lord of the Flies in the Snow with Guns kind of environment. That’s fun, and I want to read that book. However, the twist of Lucas and Joey being the ringleaders to lead a revolution against their own parents was essentially given away the first time we see them. Vic says, “those guys are creeps,” and boom. You know something is going down. Furthermore, Lucas, the apparent ringleader, is given absolutely zero characterization, other than having a prominently displayed copy of The Catcher in the Rye in his room. (And could the book choice have gotten any more cliché?) He just seems a sociopath willing to kill his own father. What this means is that issue #2 will again have a lot of world building to do; it was an interesting choice on Ed Brisson’s part to develop a status quo and then immediately change it. And it seemed like all of the kids were in on the plan except for Vic, which makes me wonder, “What kind of personality is Lucas that he could persuade every single kid in town to be willing to kill their parents?”

However, I like where this is going. I want Lord of the Flies in the Snow with Guns and a Cult Leader. I want that very much. I’m excited for the next issue.

The art is also a strange mixture. Johnnie Christmas’ (By the way, what a great name.) art at times perfectly fits the situation, while at others it seems strangely lacking in detail. Characters are gangly with long faces and hands, and it reminds me very much of Jeff Lemire’s style. I have absolutely no problem with that (Underwater Welder, anyone?), however Christmas’ art loses a lot of detail when the panels pull back to mid shots and long shots. Characters lose all facial features and distinctive characteristics; it got to the point where it was sometimes unclear to me who was who when I saw them from a distance. When backgrounds are given detail, it’s frequently beautiful. The setting is without a doubt gorgeous, and the sterile white plays nicely against the angry red bloodshed that comes at the end of the issue. However, usually the backgrounds on long shots lack the level of detail necessary when establishing location.

Another issue I had, which seems like a bigger deal than it actually is, was that ages were impossible to determine. At times Vic looked around 12, whereas at others she looked as old as 24 or 25. Lucas’ father is somewhere between 35 and 60. I say this is less of a problem than it should be because I assume that as the story continues and we learn more about these characters, we’ll learn the ages of the kids via dialogue or thought processes. As I said above, there aren’t many (if any at all) adults left, so . . . that’s not really an issue. But still, I’d like some consistent facial features.

In the end, Lord of the Flies in the Snow with Guns and a Cult Leader with Sometimes Questionable Artistic Choices is one that I have faith will find itself as it continues, and I look forward to reading along.

Story: Ed Brisson Art: Johnnie Christmas
Story: 7 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review.

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