Dystopia Week

Gateway to Comics: Wasteland – The Apocalyptic Edition – Vol. 1

Wasteland is a post apocalyptic ongoing series written by Antony Johnston and drawn by Christopher Mitten from Oni Press. It’s set in a world one hundred years after a global event called the Big Wet, a disaster that wiped away most of humanity and civilisation as we know it. What remained was a dry and dusty world crawling with mutants and hordes of vicious sand people living in the shattered remains of broken cities. Wasteland follows the story of Michael, a traveller who stumbles into the town of Providence, half dead and clutching a weird machine that speaks in a foreign language which is giving directions to a place of myth called A-Ree-Yass-I.

Wasteland is an epic science fiction story about myths, mysticism, belief and survival. Set in a dusty Earth, reminiscent of Tatooine from Star Wars or the world of Mad Max but without the motorcycle gangs, it charts the journey of Michael, a loner and survivor who has been walking the dusty plains of America for a long time.

The Big Wet wiped the Earth clean, and a hundred years later much of the old world has yet to return. Technology is in its infancy but there are vehicles and guns for long distance travel and civilisation is now a collection of trading posts, barter towns and the occasional city. Part of the story takes place in the city of Newbegin which is heavily fortified against the elements and the sand eaters, savage dwellers who attack unwary travellers.

Humanity might have survived but very few seemed to have learned from their history. Greed, envy, wrath, a lust for power and many other sins have survived and most people are only interested in looking after themselves. One of the new religions that sprang up since the Big Wet, the Sunners faith, is focused on balance and harmony with nature, is viewed by many as a nasty cult that must be tolerated.

At first Michael seems like a person typical to this kind of selfish world. A scavenger who picks ruins clean for anything of worth, sells them at trading posts and keeps moving, never getting involved or putting down roots. Not long after his visit to Providence, the town is destroyed by sand eaters. He turns his back on the survivors and leaves them to fend for themselves. Some part of Michael is not as bleak as the landscape and he returns to help protect and guide them towards the city of Newbegin and a fresh start. Along the way we learn more about the residents of Providence and how Michael and Abi, the town healer, have more in common than they even realise.

The city of Newbegin is a thriving metropolis, one built on human slavery, trafficking, corruption, and greed. The blind Lord Founder rules the Council with an iron fist and although he claims to have the best interests of the people and city in mind, this is rarely the case. He is a godhead with his own church and will not tolerate any disruptions to his plans. Any excuses for not following his orders are met with painful reprimands and he has no compunction about ordering people murdered if they get in his way.

The Providence survivors expect a better life and a fresh start in the city but have no idea of what they are struggling towards. The journey is a brutal one through the endless desert and they encounter all manner of creatures who seem determined to kill and maim them, and a few of those are human. The people of Providence are a real community who look after each other, even on the road, but the rest of the world doesn’t care. Michael, Abi and a few others are forced to make some difficult decisions on the road in order to protect the majority, even if it means sacrificing a few people. The world of Wasteland is an unforgiving one and the weak will get left behind.

Underneath the journey for survival is a much larger story about the history of the world and a search for a mythical place called A-Ree-Yass-I where the Big Wet is supposed to have begun. As the story develops we begin to realise there is much more to Michael than meets the eye. He’s been walking the desert for a long time and has seen many places, and yet some of his knowledge seems beyond his years. He also has an unusual talent and we find out Abi is a kindred spirit, but this is not random and it hints at something larger.

Saying much more would spoil the surprises, but there are a number of hints and clues seeded throughout the story about the Big Wet and some of the mysteries surrounding Michael and Abi.

Wasteland is an exciting and tense story about survival and this special “Apocalyptic” edition collects the first 12 issues of the ongoing series. Five trade paperbacks are currently available or two Apocalyptic editions which collect the first 25 issues.

Stephen Aryan is a lifelong fan of comics, science fiction and fantasy. He co-hosts the Comic Book Outsiders podcast and writes fantasy and comic book reviews at Walker of Worlds.


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