Bizarre New World: Population Explosion
Written & Created by Skipper Martin
Pencils by Christopher Provencher
Colors by Wes Dzioba
Lettering by Ellen Everett
Cover Pencils by Tone Rodriguez
Cover Price: $6.95; On-sale: now
By far, the coolest perk I’ve experienced with this whole “internet reviewer” gig was when creators actually started emailing me requests to review their comics. Me personally. When I got my very first such email, I was all at once shocked, nervous, and elated. I had finally arrived! Forget that I wasn’t making money doing it. Pfft. Who needed money? This was something MUCH more important… MUCH more substantial.
People were giving me their comics.
How many years had I waited for that very thing to happen? To no longer have to go searching for the coolest stuff on the racks… to actually have it come to me!
Well, come to me it has, folks. The first must-read book of 2008 just got dropped in my lap and I couldn’t be happier.
Bizarre New World was a three-issue miniseries put out by Ape Entertainment in 2007. I first learned about it when a fast-thinking huckster noticed my Violent Messiahs t-shirt at last year’s Wizard World LA convention and shoved a BNW mini-comic under my nose. The story was drawn by Messiahs artist Tone Rodriguez, and so, the eager salesman thought, he had hooked me. I politely accepted and showed a moderate amount of interest, so as not to make the guy’s efforts seem meaningless, but to be honest, my mind was on anything else at the time. I detached myself with a smile and a “thanks,” dropped the mini in my swag-bag (godsends, those little things) and went on my merry, oblivious way. It wasn’t until later that evening, resting my sore feet and sifting through my booty like the kid that hit every house twice on Halloween, that I really took a look at this book.
And it was then that I truly was hooked.
This was the story of an ordinary guy who learned one day that he could fly. Just lift off the ground and go. What followed wasn’t some convoluted conspiracy theory, or a story about a superhero in the making… It was basically a slice-of-life comic! The entire series was built on one question… “What would it be like if you suddenly learned that you could fly?” And for three issues, we followed the main character, Paul Krutcher, as he proceeded to answer that very question.
Having now finally read all three issues of the first series, I can honestly say I was absolutely enchanted by it (a word I don’t often use away from the D&D table), and it makes me even happier to be able to do the review for the follow-up story, Bizarre New World: Population Explosion.
(… see how I snuck in a review of the first series there? Oh, the cleverness of me…)
Opening mere minutes after the first story closed, this 48-page original graphic novel finds Paul Krutcher staring slack-jawed at a world that has suddenly, and simultaneously, taken to the skies. As Paul adjusts to the biz… heh… okay, that one would be too easy — amazing new circumstances of the world around him, we are treated to the same attention to detail and sheer wonder that writer/creator Skipper Martin infused the previous story with. One of the most immediately pleasing sequences is when Paul watches as his best friend, who had once lectured him about his “hypothetical” hesitance to take advantage of his new gift, takes her own first leap into weightlessness. The look on her face will put a smile on yours, but more importantly, the immediate result of that first leap sets up the slightly different tone of this story from the last. I won’t call it darker, because it wouldn’t really apply… But there is a definite sense of consequence this time around.
When everyone in the world can fly, all of the dangers Paul considered in the previous installment start to come true. And just as this begins to dawn on him (and the reader), he receives a voice mail from his son, crying, asking for help. Fearing the worst, Paul immediately sets off on a “road” trip from his home in LA to his son’s house in Arizona, and it is this journey that fills up the majority of the story.
What’s great about this book — what really stood out to me, and made me like it for completely different reasons than I did the first one — is how utterly familiar the conflict is. In the wake of world-altering events, a devoted father receives a call for help from his son, and sets out on a journey to save him, not knowing what he will find when he arrives. It’s The Day After Tomorrow. It’s The Rising. It’s a freaking disaster movie!
Except… it’s not! The tone of the story is a bit more serious than the last, but what’s driving it isn’t some apocalyptic super storm, or a sudden infestation of zombies; it’s simply the very realistic consequences of what would happen if everyone on the planet leapt into the air all at once… and stayed there.
In addition to the writing, which not only holds strong from the first series, but gets even more insightful and thought-provoking this time around, the art by series artist Christopher Provencher advances as well. I won’t say “improves” because I personally think the simple linework in the first series was pitch perfect for the story they were telling. This time around, he could have done the exact same quality of work, and I would have been just as pleased, but it is obvious that just as the story kicks the emotion up a notch, so then do the pencils. Plus, it would be a crime for me not to acknowledge the herculean effort Provencher puts into the crowded skies of this issue. It would have been an easy mistake to pack the floating bodies together in such a way that it looked more like the interior of a sardine can than a three-dimensional atmosphere, but he pulls it off perfectly. This, plus the fun little throwaway details that you may only pick up on repeated readings, leads me to believe that we are only seeing the beginning of a shining career from this artist.
Similarly would it be just plain wrong of me not to mention the consistently amazing colors of Wes Dzioba. What he does with panoramic shots is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Look at me…
I’m gushing like a freaking fire hydrant, but I can’t help it! I liked this book! I want more of it! And, yay for me, there is ONE more miniseries on the way! Of course, when that comes out, they’ll have to get someone else here to do the review, because I’ll probably just end up copying and pasting most of what I’ve written here.
In closing: Buy the damn book.
I’m serious. Give these people your money. They deserve it, and you owe it to yourself to experience something truly unique that will leave you smiling long after you’ve closed the book, opened it, and reread certain parts, and then closed it again. This is good comics.
I give both this story, and the one before it, a well and truly deserved A.