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‘The Saviors:’ Trade Paperback Review

Tomas Ramirez has no aspirations or dreams — he’s perfectly content to chill at his gas station job and talk to random lizards.  But he finds that the latter has become a lot more literal as some of his fellow townspeople are actually shape-shifting reptilian aliens that want to exterminate humanity.  Soon, he finds himself fighting in a secret worldwide war for humanity’s survival with an underground resistance force.  He’s way over his head, so he does the most logical thing — get high.

Today’s comic is brought to you by famed writer James Robinson who has numerous comic credits from Marvel, DC, and several other publishers.  The man has a gift for story and dialogue, all of which he brings to his first creator-owned project.  While the idea of a stoner being caught in an alien war has been done before, this feels very fresh and unique.  It’s the same feeling as Robinson’s Starman as it stood out among the superhero genre.

Of course, a great comic balances the writing with its art, and The Saviors does so perfectly.  The artist is credited as J. Bone who also helped create the concept.  J. Bone uses a minimalist style that makes the whole thing feel simple and more intimate, much like our protagonist.  I also have to commend him for the stunning way he uses monochrome.  Actually, monochrome might be the wrong word; rather than just sticking to black and white, the comic uses a single color at various points and uses different shades as contrast, some even going as far to be white and black.  I don’t know if that’s been done before, but it’s amazing.

I found myself really liking our main character and biting my nails over the insidious and horrifying aliens.  They are obviously based on David Icke’s conspiracy theory of shape-shifting reptilians living among us and secretly positioned in places of power.  But the comic takes it further with the aliens able to give themselves wings, making themselves stronger, turning into sea serpents, really feeling like terrifying, unkillable creatures.  Yet the whole thing has a very relaxed vibe, some good comedy, and a nice bit of self-awareness to how 1950s this all feels.  It really feels like a true ten out of ten.

But there must be something about it that bothers me.  Well, there is, but it’s more a cause of sadness than any real grievance.  The book has a solid, yet open-ended, conclusion, and the next volume’s preview pages tease of stories from around the globe, even looking at the history or dealing with these aliens.  The thing is, it’s been two years since the last issue, and Robinson is only now getting reinvigorated as the trade comes out.  Apparently, he was, by his own admission, a bit out of his depth when handling his first creator-owned project, and thus the comic issues just had the bare bones — the story and a couple of ads rather than something engaging like a fan letters page — which curbed its interest on the shelf.  In the age of crowdfunding and self-management, it’s important to think your project through and use this as an example to avoid serious pitfalls.

The reason I’m not raving over this like I do for other works that I adore is because the whole thing has a mellow, low-key vibe, much like our hero.  But that doesn’t stop it from having a great plot, superb writing, and some out-of-the-box visuals.  It’s very much its own unique story, and I highly recommend buying the trade.  Maybe if enough people do, Robinson and J. Bone will get back together and continue this promising series.

Colin Eldred-Cohen, Fanbase Press Guest Contributor



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