Wasteland Book 01: Cities of Dust (Oni Press)

wasteheaderAntony Johnston and Christopher Mitten show what post-apocalyptic life is like 100 years after "The Big Wet."



158 pages B&W; $11.95

(W: Antony Johnston; A: Christopher Mitten)


The cover to Wasteland Book 01. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Gruff, cloaked, mysterious stranger? Check. Small town desert trading post? Check. Hissing mutated scavengers? Uh-huh. New religion with accompanying retro-future slang? I'll be a sundamned son of a goat! This must be post-apocalyptic fiction! It's 100 years after "The Big Wet", and Michael's just a guy trying to get by in a nuclear wasteland. Walking the desert one day, he stumbles on a small abandoned camp. He pokes around and finds a corpse, still clutching onto a PDA. With barely a chance to loot, he gets attacked by the mutant sandeaters. He manages to kill them, but only after taking a nasty bite to the arm. Soon, he's heading into Providens, "populashun 250" where he meets Abi, the town's lone law person, at the trading post. They find that they're both holding some serious secrets, but Michael isn't interested in sharing. He just wants to patch up and head out. Unfortunately, a huge pack of sandeaters followed him to town, and he soon finds himself responsible for guiding a wrecked town's survivors through a hazardous desert to the city of Newbegin. But when they get there, will they even be let in?


That's just the first part in this collection of the first six issues of Wasteland, which moves at a quick pace while laying seeds for a bigger story. The tribe's spiritual leader tells a campfire tale of the legend of A-Ree-Yass-I, and we get a foggy picture of the fall of man which is, of course, due to greed and something about killing Father Moon's children. Intercut with the journey are scenes from inside Newbegin, with its corrupt leader, the Lord Founder, setting up to be a greater threat than the desert.


Wasteland's good, but it comes with a constant feeling of deja vu. It deserves better than to be thrown off as just a Mad Max rip-off, but there's probably a manga or three with the exact same plotline. Despite not bringing much new to the table, Antony Johnston's script is pretty tight with nice dialogue and some intriguing nuggets dropped here and there that may pan out in future volumes (What is up with that PDA anyway?). His artistic collaborator, Christopher Mitten, does a good job visualizing this dusty, old world and its desperate people, with rough, but detailed art.


All in all, Wasteland is a pretty good read, but doesn't carry enough oomph or originality to really stand out in the crowd. | Nick Main


Click here to read the entire first issue of Wasteland, courtesy of the fine folks at Oni Press!

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