Amina and Fred’s tragic history has put them on opposite sides of how to deal with the infected children currently threatening humanity. Fred is unable to move past the fact that Theo, his stepson, is responsible for the deaths of his two biological sons. He has joined forces with a group (seemingly) bent on annihilating the threat of infection entirely, with no attempt to save or cure the infected. Amina represents the opposite ideology, that the infected are not responsible for their actions and should be saved at all costs.
This, of course, is the central conflict in the story. Those who will sacrifice everything to save the infected, those who are ready to write them off entirely, and now, apparently, those who will opportunistically attempt to take advantage of the situation for monetary gain. Balancing this conflict with sympathetic, natural human emotion should be a vital component to this story; however, I’ve find myself unconvinced so far. The ease with which so many characters can dehumanize the infected children is, at the very least, troubling. The obvious fact that these children not in command of their actions and are, therefore, not responsible for them should weigh more heavily on the characters in the story, not solely Amina, our heroine.
This issue is especially noticeable in Fred’s backstory. We are expected to believe that Fred is basically a good guy who has been so damaged by the death of his sons that he goes over to the dark side; however, we see him make the decision to join up with a militia group bent on eradicating all children after he witness two members of this militia executing two healthy children. There is a brief moment of muted moral outrage followed by a passive agreement to join their group after he lets them convince him that it might be the right thing to do.
It’s one thing to depict people doing what they think is justified to save their own lives, but the militia treat the shooting of two non-threatening children like it’s just another exciting day on the shooting range . . . high fives all around for taking out the target. Fred’s association with this, indirect though it may be, seriously damages any sympathy I might have had for his internal conflict.
I continue to have ongoing difficulties with other aspects of the story execution, as well. Transitions between present-day events and flashbacks are abrupt and unclear. The panels are getting progressively smaller and more cramped, making group action scenes especially confusing. I continue to have difficulty distinguishing facial features from character to character, especially among the men.
I can say that I continue to be interested in the overall story concept in The Rage. I am happy to see further character development for Fred, even though I still don’t yet fully appreciate his motivations. I’m also intrigued by the new plot developments we see at the end of this volume, with the “Evil Scheme” starting to take shape. Encouragingly, the level of threat has been significantly ramped up. Our protagonists are now on the run from multiple groups, so I would expect some interesting twists as they attempt to stay undercover.