Review: Sheltered #3
This issue of Sheltered was simultaneously small and huge, in a very good way. The plot itself is tiny, but the reveals are large.
(SPOILERS) I really, really liked how this issue was presented. The plot itself is essentially very small. Victoria snuck out of the bunker looking for a radio, phone, or computer, only to come face to face with Lucas, ringleader and loony cult leader of the parent-murdering children. Then they have a conversation. Then it ends. That’s it. That’s the main plot of this issue. In a different comic that entire storyline might have been presented in three pages, and then it would have move on to the next part of the plot. Fortunately, Sheltered #3 and its creators expand it into the entire issue, which accomplishes several things.
Firstly, it allows the art to shine. The pages are dominated by huge panels; there’s no nine panel grid-work here. There are several pages that have five panels, but that’s really the most panels per page that this comic contains. It means that most images are big and bold and are created with the idea of telling the story in mind. We don’t need loads of tiny panels per page to tell each individual story beat. Johnnie Christmas has envisioned and drawn the panels for maximum impact, giving the art a sense of the awesome and inspiring, as well as giving us readers beautifully drawn, large scale pictures to look at. Frankly, it’s nice. While it means that the issue is a fairly quick read, everything works together smoothly, so I didn’t feel like there wasn’t enough content. (Also, on a positive note, one of the problems I had with the first issue was the lack of detail on the mid to long shots, but thankfully this issue is much more detailed.)
Secondly, the expansion of a small storyline allows the big reveals to carry more weight. When Lucas finally reveals to Victoria why had had all of the parents killed (a super volcano underneath Yellowstone), the stupidity of that hits hard. We’re given several panels in which we see Victoria act like the reader would. She sits down, says “Oh my God,” and then proceeds to tell him how absolutely moronic he is. The moment isn’t rushed, and we feel Victoria’s despondency and desperation. Because we get to fully feel how Victoria reacts, it implies that others may react similarly. This book is billed as a “Pre-Apocalyptic Tale,” and I’m beginning to the think that the apocalypse may come in the form of a Lord of the Flies style civil war between two groups of children: those who learn the truth about Lucas’ plan and react as Victoria does, and those who follow Lucas to the bitter end.
On that note, there were smaller scenes to that effect. We have a quiet moment of two kids discussing that perhaps their actions (killing all the adults) may have been premature, but the final page may be the most damning. A kid (I couldn’t tell if it was the boy from the scene I just mentioned) finds that Lucas burned up all the radios and phones, effectively cutting off their contact with the outside world.
I felt lukewarm about the debut issue, but Sheltered is quickly becoming one of the books from Image that I most look forward to. Bring on that civil war!
-We have a two week jump in time, from last issue to this one. Victoria and Hailey have just been chilling in a bunker for two weeks. Oh my God the boredom.
-As I mentioned in the body of my review, I’m really enjoying how the art is presented, but I wanted to quickly touch on the panel arrangement itself. On almost every page there are small, square panels layered on top of larger ones, and I really like that. I know it’s a common practice, but it’s really effective in this comic. It allows for large, beautiful art while still allowing for smaller images that are important to the story telling.
-Finally, we had that scene where those two kids, whose ages I put between ten and thirteen, ate all the cereal and beat the crap out of that older kid. Problems a’brewing.
Story: Ed Brisson Art: Johnnie Christmas
Story: 8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.