By Christopher Sebela and Hayden Sherman
This new AfterShock title sets up a bleak future where a group of people, recently awoken from a cryogenic sleep, are thrust into a world and situation(s) that is not at all what they expected. The issue follows one of the recently awakened, Tom Rook, a man devoted to duty and battle. He steps into this new life ready for what’s to come…
There are clear influences from Hiroya Oku, specifically Gantz, and Frank Miller, in terms of his art style and his work Ronin. The comic is fairly engaging from page one and that’s mainly due to Hayden Sherman’s artwork. His intentionally rough, unrefined form is very reminiscent of Miller. It feels unique compared to the majority of “by the book” artists working today. He brings a real grit and dynamism to the material that seems to be in line with the story being told. A nice example of form and function at work. Yet, it’s so hard to make out the characters and follow who’s saying what. The lack of detail in the characters and the same black outfit that they’re all wearing factors heavily into this. The rough style and panel decisions actually work against the storytelling in many moments. This comic is not easy to follow, even after reading it three times. There is a nice variation of page layouts that add to the specificity and uniqueness of the comic, though. It brings fresh perspective in what could have been boring expository moments.
Christopher Sebela does some interesting work in this book. He sets up the exposition fairly quickly and thrusts forward into the conflict and rising action abruptly, but it’s fitting because that’s exactly what’s happening to the characters in the comic. It’s a nice literary device to allow readers to fall into the story and empathize with the character’s plight. He focuses on Tom Rook in this issue and it quickly becomes clear he’s cut off the Frank Castle cloth and the like. Sebela does something bold with him and immediately re-engages the reader. There is some strong writing at work, for the most part. There are moments where an action or scene is being shown and character voice-over narrations are placed over them, but it’s very unclear who those characters are (even with color-coded dialogue boxes). Part of this is due to the lack of voice given to characters. Also, there just hadn’t been enough space given to really develop these specific characters in this one issue. Beats like this, which happen a few times, breaks the flow of the read and really hurts the cumulative effect of the narrative.
Overall, there’s promise to be found in Cold War, expectations just have to be tempered. The overall plot is intriguing; there were surprising moments and the artwork works for the material. There are some glaring issues, which is a bit off-putting considering that these creators are industry pros. They should know the pitfalls of a first issue and know how to traverse them. It’s a bit disappointing when they fall headfirst into them. Despite the problems with the comic, it is worth checking and following the story for a couple more issues to see if the work improves.