Review: THE WILDS #1

Written by Vita Ayala
Art by Emily Pearson, Marissa Louise, and Jim Campbell
Edited by Danny Lore
Published by Black Mask Comics
Release date: February 28, 2018

Stories about zombie take-overs are usually portrayed as being grungy, grey, and deadly. Readers are presented with an earth that is dying or dead and an enemy that is mindless and horrific. The Wilds, however, gives readers something completely different. It’s an original story that brings readers into an apocalyptic world of bright colors, blooming flowers, and mysterious abominations.

Writer Vita Ayala has created a new and startling take on the zombie apocalypse with The Wilds.  The story not only has the classic horror element of the undead, but it also touches on some of our biggest fears as a society and as individuals.  Ayala presents us with a virus running out of control, losing our humanity, being under the rule of a new authority, and of course, survival. We are introduced to the status quo of this world through the eyes of a survivor that protagonist Daisy saves. As he learns about Daisy and her people we find that the world is much more complicated than just killing zombies or in this case the abominations.

What is most interesting and mysterious is the presentation of these infected humans. Although they attack unaffected humans they do not look very scary at all and in fact look beautiful. The reader may even conclude that the survivors are less appealing than the abominations.  Ayala’s humans are stressed out, motivated by fear, and trapped in a prison of their own making. It is just made more obvious by the beauty of the abominations.

The mystery of the abominations is entrancing to say the least. The reader is left wondering about their true origins and if it is indeed so bad if it is nature that it is doing this to us. We have mistreated nature for so long is it only fair that it has finally struck back at us. It’s only fitting that it uses beauty to strangle out our horrific humanity. Ayala does a wonderful job introducing the reader to this world and main character Daisy.

There is an underlying tension that exists just under the skin of the story that builds steadily from start to end. In every relationship that Daisy has there seems to be a large amount of conflict present and is probably the reason that she continues to be a runner both literally and figuratively. Though she and the other runners continue to risk their lives there seems to be an unbalanced return for their efforts. In much the same way our society seems to forget about our unsung heroes of everyday life the runners seem to be relegated to disposable necessities.

Emily Pearson’s gives Ayala’s world a very natural and organic feel to it. Her art was the perfect choice to bring to life Ayala’s creative storytelling. The art comes alive with flowing lines that appear in faces and echoed in nature. Pearson’s style of drawing gives the characters a very true to life feel to the story while still being minimalistic. Her use of clean lines is in direct contrast to what readers are used to when encountering end of the world type stories. Instead of grunge and grime we get sharp and smooth. It furthers the idea that this isn’t your usual zombie story and there is something very different going on here.

Something very interesting to note is the eyes of the abominations. They are not cloudy, or rolling around in their head, and they are not monstrous. The eyes of the abominations are clear, aware, and piercing. They clearly know what is going on and have purpose rather than being mindless. Pearson also makes a clear distinction between the abominations and their surroundings which are very organic and beautiful while the unaffected humans buildings and clothing are very clean cut looking and sterile.

The humans themselves, though, are worn out. It is very clear to see the toil that is being taken upon the runners. Pearson gives them a stressed and run down look in their faces and eyes that again is in direct contrast to the abominations who look very relaxed.

Marissa Louise colors The Wilds beautifully. Colors are very important in this type of story especially since the affliction of the abominations is so naturalistic. The world outside is full of bright warm colors that you usually would find in the beautiful outdoors. Louise’s work helps to capture the feel of a perfect golden afternoon.

In contrast the humans are surrounded by predominantly cooler colors that again add to the feeling of sterility. Louise does a lovely job of creating a glowing setting sun effect on a number of the panels. It’s a very inviting and happy feel that again leads the reader to question what is really going on in this world.

Jim Campbell does a great job at lettering this issue. Everything is easily legible and flows nicely and the sound effects add the necessary pop to surprising moments.

Overall, The Wilds is an excellent introduction to a new world for readers to be intrigued by. Ayala’s writing will intrigue readers and the art team steps up to the challenge to bring this unique world to life. This is sure to be a hit!

The Verdict: 10/10

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