Children of the Grave is a new dystopian sci-fi series from publisher Scout Comics by creators Sam Romesburg, Ben Roberts, and Gioele Filippo that introduces a world based on misinformation and isolation. Not very far fetched, right? In a world where there are remnants of society from 30 years ago, but elders strictly say to never leave home and all of that is fake anyway, what do you do?
If you’re a fan of The Last of Us, you might get a similar vibe from this first issue. It opens with a teenager named Daniel scavenging a convenience store and reflecting on how the world used to be. This is a great introduction to Daniel’s life as we learn he’s been indoctrinated to believe Earth is now known as Terra and the old world is gone and should be forgotten. Through well-written captions and plotting, the creators draw you into Daniel’s worldview and how he can’t accept a life where food and shelter are provided. He’s told he should accept the way the world is, but the mystery of what happened gnaws at him. As you follow his thoughts you’ll be convinced the internal conflict he feels to learn more is valid and true.
For the most part, the plotting works and hits when it needs to, especially in the final few pages. Things ramp up wonderfully, introducing some wild sci-fi ideas on top of the already sound world-building. When you put this first issue down, you’ll feel like you got your money’s worth.
The pacing is a bit off, however, with the narrative slowing way down as characters stand around talking. A few scene changes or a subplot with a bit of action could have moved the book along better. Instead, there’s a chunk of this book where it seems to be standing in place, getting its ideas across via dialogue.
Filippo’s art, alongside colors by Marco Lesko, is good for a character-focused comic, and it hits with shock or visually informative moments as well. There’s a good double-page spread of the town Daniel lives in, for instance, as well as a shocker near the end of the book that rings in the sci-fi dystopian aspect of the series well. A visual element that works well in this issue is how nature is taking over a bit. Leaves cling to old structures reminding us society has fallen, serving as a visual reminder Daniel is being told to not worry about the old world and yet it seems to be falling apart. The use of a subdued color palette also informs the reader things aren’t fresh and bright.
Children of the Grave works thanks to deft hands that never reveal too much in a fascinating new world worth exploring. There are interesting ideas at work here with a highly relatable perspective. It’s a science fiction story that hits close to home in a world filled with misinformation and leaders who hide the truth.
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