Review: Breaklands Vol. 1
The first story arc of Breaklands is being collected in trade paperback for the first time. This genre-bending adventure series, written by Justin Jordan, was developed by Dark Horse Comics and digitally published as a ComiXology Original. The story is set in a dystopian future where people have developed psychic powers. These psychic abilities have become a part of nearly every aspect of life. The most powerful psychics, known as Shapers, are sought after by the new ruling class. This matters very little to the powerless Kasa Fain and her little brother Adam. They live a peaceful and quiet life. That all changes when Adam is kidnapped and Kasa must set off across the world to rescue him.
Jordan puts together a story that pairs lighthearted humor with hardcore action. The banter between Kasa and the warriors she recruits to help rescue Adam is fast paced and witty. Despite these high these high points, I didn’t find the plot to be all that original. Although there is a fair amount of dialogue, a lot of the storytelling is done through visuals alone. Jordan also come up with cool uses for the various psychic abilities. Pyrokinetic powered vehicles alone are a concept I’d love to see explored further in another series.
I never thought I’d write this, but I think Breaklands almost has too much action. The narrative gets lost in between all the high-octane action sequences. Character development falls by the wayside in favor of the non-stop action. In addition, there were several action scenes that either didn’t make a lot of sense or where it was hard to tell exactly what was going on. I also think there’s almost too many characters, introduced too quickly. Some of them don’t even end up mattering to the greater narrative. Little enough attention is given to developing the main characters to begin with, so the added side characters wind up just cluttering the plot.
In Breaklands, artist Tyasseta draws everything with a cool aesthetic. There are many beautiful full-page spreads in which Tyasetta gets to showcase the world he and Jordan have created. Tyasetta injects a mix of cultures into the vehicles, clothing, and the adornment of buildings. He also draws a variety of different action scenes, some more violent than others. The gorier fight scenes look comical since they’re drawn in a very animated style. I don’t mean for that sentence to come off as a negative. This juxtaposition between gore and cartoon styling actually contributes to the comic’s unique look.
When it comes to comic book storytelling, I often feel like writers come up with a cool concept but then struggle to tell a coherent story within the world they’ve created. In my opinion Breaklands suffers from the opposite problem. Jordan weaves together a strong, albeit familiar, narrative but the world he’s created doesn’t do much to support his story. The story has substance, but the concept is mostly flash. Luckily, Tyasetta uses his talents to full effect and illustrates that flash in a visually pleasing manner. All in all, this is a series that’s not going to appeal to everyone. If you enjoyed Justin Jordan’s previous works or are a fan of dystopian adventures, you’ll probably find something to like about this series. If those caveats don’t apply to you, maybe read the first issue before committing to the entire trade paperback.
Story: Justin Jordan Art: Tyasseta
Color: Sarah Stern Letterer: Rachel Deering
Story: 5.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read
Dark Horse and comiXology provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review