Story: Ted Anderson
Art: Nuno Plati
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
What They Say:
One day all the adults died, all over the world, at the same time.
Now it’s twenty years later, and the children — all grown up — are still rebuilding the world. Horses and caravans are the only thin lines connecting tiny, scattered settlements — little sparks in the great dark night. Gasoline is gone, phones long-dead, television a memory. The only power in America is the New Church, the religion of the angry children, that blames the destruction of the old world on the dead adults.
In the settlement of Dallastown, a stranger comes riding in one day, telling a story of escape from the New Church’s unstoppable Firemen. The Church is on the march, and the world might burn again — and the only hope might be a scared teenage girl, a gunslinger keeping his secrets, and a woman of few words and long knives. Welcome to the Orphan Age.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Ted Anderson definitely caught my attention with his recent AfterShock Comics series Moth & Whisper so when it was revealed he had another project on tap, this one with artist Nuno Plati, I was all on board. Plati’s done a lot of Marvel work on the Spider-Man side so I was definitely curious to see what an original creation series would be like for him and pairing with Anderson meant that we’d get some interesting story ideas and lots of open interpretation on the artistic side to work with. I’m also keen because the concept here isn’t about an apocalypse event but what comes afterward, which is often where storytelling breaks down as that’s considered less interesting. For me, that’s where the meat of the story is, seeing how society changes and how it rebuilds and in what ways.
The trappings for this story give us a world twenty years into the future after a sudden event caused all the adults to die. There are no reasons why, no details to the cutoff age or any of that. Just the broad sweep. The older kids are now adults and many have kids of their own but this part of America has regressed to something lightly early industrial for the most part with a focus on a farm town where Brian Raleigh is the mayor. His daughter, who he calls Princess, has learned much of what’s needed to survive in the world but also the core idea that people need other people. We see some interesting things in how the town operates, such as communal meals and sharing time where people talk about all kinds of things. But it feels like one thing they all share in common is survivors guilt after the events of the past and that seriously colors things for many of them. They have a shared bond but watching it unfold in personal ways as kids has really damaged them.
When an unconscious stranger named Daniel arrives in town on horseback after being shot, the opens up the series to what it wants to be. It’s through him that we learn that a nearby city, McAllister, has been taken over by the New Church, which means it has a whole lot of weapons. And this New Church is now spreading further to gain converts and leave disbelievers in the dirt by killing them. What makes it worse is that this little farm town is largely undefended at the moment as their scavaging caravan is off on a mission elsewhere, which means everything turns bleak here quickly as the arrival of the New Church means a lot of chaos, death, and setting people to run in order to survive. And that includes Princess, as she ends up with Daniel and a traveling musician named Willa that was in town to perform the last few days. It’s a solid setup that introduces us to an interesting town before thrusting us into the world at large.
I really enjoyed Moth & Whisper and Ted Anderson essentially takes us down a different path here that’s just as exciting. I like that we get a post-event world where it’s down the line enough that there are a lot of issues to explore and no real answers still to be had about it. Most people are just living and surviving but also struggling with real guilt that colors things. And, as always, there are groups looking to dominate and cement their control over others in this brave new world. Anderson brings in a lot of solid characters in slim form here that leaves me wanting more while Nuno Plati brings it to life beautifully. I love the earthy tones of it all and especially the character designs. He gives us a convincing world to inhabit with the cast while also delivering some great action material alongside the up close and personal aspects of it. Definitely a series to watch.
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: AfterShock Comics
Release Date: April 10th, 2019