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‘Broken World #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review

As the Marvel Universe comes to an end in Secret Wars #1, a slightly more recognizable world, in a future not so distant from ours, is on the verge of mass extinction. Broken World #1 is a world without superheroes, instead filled with people simply trying to survive. Less science fiction and more drama.

The first heading we read in the top, left-hand corner of page one of Frank J. Barbiere (Five Ghosts, Avengers World) and Christopher Peterson’s (Grindhouse, Mayday) thoughtful creation is THREE HOURS TO IMPACT. These bold, emblazoned letters set the tone of a world about to say goodbye.

The rest of the book sets a markedly unexpected tone from what one is used to in a tale about Armageddon, one that creates a strange unease within the reader. Instead of dark skies and overtly grim prospects, the golden yellows, pastel-colored light blues, and vivid purples that color this world seem unaware of humanity’s impending doom. Almost like they were chosen to have a calming effect on the reader – like everything is going to be just fine. It’s probably the most serene-looking day these characters have ever lived through. That glowing feeling is felt throughout the book. Characters seem far more at ease than they should be. I’m not sure if this speaks to humanity’s naïve sense of hope or unending strength – maybe both. In this case, it’s a deliberate choice.

Our main character, Professor Elena Marlowe, is harboring a secret, one dark enough that it’s keeping her from boarding one of the lifeboats rescuing a government-selected group of people, a secret even her husband and child don’t know about. A false ID may be her only way off of the surface of this doomed rock.

It’s mostly a dialogue-driven story, and Barbiere’s knack for it is natural. Never succumbing to over stylization, he prefers to keep this as real world as it gets. He paints a picture of the characters and dilemmas surrounding them with ease.

The panels are simply laid out, as are the visual elements, allowing the dialogue to move the story forward until a very crucial moment. Suddenly, the golds become darker, the blues harsher, and because of the simplicity of the images we’ve seen, this moment, when the panels are broken, carries some emotional weight. Again, deliberately smart creative decisions, all tied together with bookend mirror splash pages.

There are other elements that set up a story we may not have at first expected, which is good, as not every idea presented at first feels necessarily original, but as a whole there’s a confidence in the writing that tells me there are even more interesting stories yet to come. Having finished this first issue, I have absolutely no idea where this will go, and that’s part of the excitement.

*Broken World will be released in June.  Be sure to pre-order your copy at your local comic book shop by Monday, May 11. 




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