Chaotic and fast-paced, Devolution makes for a great storyboard but the narrative could use a little development.
Scientists decided the best way to save humanity was to do away with religion. To that end, they created a virus that would shrink the part of the brain that deals with faith. (I know this is a comic but I seriously think I heard them discuss this on Fox News.) Surprisingly, playing god didn’t work out the way they expected which is totally weird because the last thing Victor Frankenstein ever said was, “This was totally awesome. Don’t overthink super-science. Just do it.” Consequently, life on Earth began to rapidly de-evolve like discussing politics at Thanksgiving. Except in this instance, everyone got to be the disgusting, bigoted uncle. Everyone but Raja, who is trying to get back to the source of the problem to set the world right again.
This book would have made an amazing featured story in Heavy Metal Magazine. It blends sci-fi fantasy with a little bit of Crossed-style violence and sexuality. The book certainly does reflect the primal nature it’s aiming for. The characters are always moving, new and weird threats are constantly emerging. This book would make a great translation to film. However, it would be the sort of film best enjoyed on an airplane when you can’t afford the headphones.
Saying the plot is remedial is a bit unfair, though not at all untrue. The appeal of the book is it’s brutality, the fearful the world it’s created. The villain shows up, drives the characters into the dangers and trappings of the world and once they get where they’re going they should home-free. That’s all fine.
The problem is in the third-person narrative. The narrative is what makes you realize how simple everything is, demonstrating that people may be able to de-evolve mankind, but that’s there’s nothing to be done to defeat the “tell not show” monster. The narration affords backstory, emotional insight, shot-term expectation, all things that would help us know Raja if she were speaking for herself, interacting with the other characters in a meaningful way. When the perspective is so singular in a story, you may as well cut the narrative and let the character be more expressive unless there’s something she/he is hiding. That’s not the case here.
Additionally, slowing the pacing of the story is how cartoonish some of the violence is. When a character dies it often requires the reader to stop and ask, “Wait, was that the identical character with the glasses or the identical character with no glasses whose eyes just popped out? Was that the doctor or did Gallagher just strike another watermelon?” All of a sudden the reader is looking for visual context to keep the events straight.
The ending ties the story back to a bit of a forgotten subplot from the beginning in a way that’s interesting. Hopefully the final issue will prove to be a bit more redeeming.
Think creating a virus to combat religion is the way to go? Think this would be Netflix Original movie that you watch while doing a project that a movie you see on an airplane? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter.
Story: Rick Remender Art: Jonathan Wayshak
Story: 5 Art: 6 Overall: 5.5. Recommendation: Pass
Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review