The first difference is that Milligan starts us off in a very real-world setting, as opposed to one with a heavy, sci-fi focus. Here, Milligan is comfortable taking his time and filling his world with families and their relationships, creating a very grounded world. We’ll get to the exact science of it eventually, or maybe we won’t.
The second difference that elevates the series beyond your generic pandemic storyline is that the main character falls on the spectrum of autism. Unlike other stories featuring an autistic child, Milligan has avoided the stereotypical savant or the overused element of self-abuse.
Oscar, a teen who is going to audition to get into a prestigious music academy, has high-functioning autistism. He has troubles expressing himself, connecting with his emotions, and fears not doing well with a complicated piece of music. He’s as human as you or me - not a story hook. And in this case, this is why #StoriesMatter. Milligan has taken the opportunity to scatter a literary and filmic cliché that has all but invaded storytelling over the last couple of decades. Stories have the ability to humanize those that struggle with the world in different ways without relegating them to a series of story tropes. It was a good creative choice, one that brings us into a relatively well-known genre in a very different way.
Splitting the time with Oscar is Trevon Treacy, a cyber security specialist who is hot on the heels of trying to figure out what is going on and why hordes of people are suddenly dying. He spends his time explaining what’s happening and telling his family to get to safety. As a character, he’s not quite as well developed as Oscar, but he’s necessary and I’m hoping he’ll exhibit more traits in future issues beyond being harried.
The only bump in the road for me (as an emotional journey) was the cliffhanger. To end on a cliffhanger with a less-developed character and not the emotional center of the story was a weird shift in dynamic of the story, especially since we began with Oscar as a doorway into this world. But that’s ultimately a minor gripe.
Jesús Hervás is a strong artist, able to portray some pretty complex emotions, and James Devlin’s coloring is rich and dynamic. Visually, it’s a satisfying book. A solid start and another nice addition to the Berger Books line of comic books.
Creative Team: Peter Milligan (writer), Jesús Hervás (artist), James Devlin (colorist), Sal Cipriano (letterer), Karen Berger (editor), Rachel Boyadjis (assistant editor), Richard Bruning (logo/book design), Adam Pruett (digital art technician), Mike Richardson (president and publisher)
Publisher: Berger Books, Dark Horse Comics
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