The apocalypse comes in many flavors: nuclear, war, alien invasion, zombie, you name it. Number 13 goes for one of the stranger concepts I’ve seen, where a disease has infected half the population, transforming them into inhuman creatures, some reminiscent from fantasy and science-fiction itself, like fairies or mantis people, and others, not so much, but otherwise they appear to think and act like every other human. Now, humanity has been split into two factions, those who have been infected by the disease and transformed and those who are immune. The Munes went to war with the Fected, seeking to eradicate them to keep the disease from spreading further.
If I had to describe this book in one word it would be cute. That’s right, cute. Number 13 has an endearing art style that makes all but the most bada– of bada–es look adorable, from the genuinely cute moments to the ones that are meant to be serious, like going into a life or death situation. The bright colors do a lot to establish this tone, which to me comes across like a Saturday morning cartoon interpretation of a post-apocalyptic setting; it simply doesn’t feel that dirty or grim. There is a wide-variety to the Fected introduced just in this first issue. A person can become anything once infected – no number of limbs is too low or high, any coloration imaginable is possible, wings, tentacles, tails, or becoming an amorphous blob – nothing is off limits here. The art makes full use of the unique qualities of its characters and does a lot to characterize them and establish that cute and innocent feel I’ve been talking about.
The background for the world is interesting, if undeveloped at the moment. I feel similarly about the characters and the main plot. There is a lot of cool imagery, but a ton of characters are introduced in this first issue, far too many to keep track of, and of them, only a handful of names are introduced and even fewer characters are given enough panels to give me an inkling of who they are beyond their physical appearance. The plot fairs a bit better in this book but doesn’t endeavor to be anything unique to the genre despite the wacky options available.
Brightly colored, a little bizarre, and cute, Number 13 has the art to win over many fans but needs to slow down a bit and introduce its cast and unfold its plot before it throws too much at readers and loses the story in the process.