Dynamite brings Rick Remender's twisted vision of the future to life in Devolution

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DEVOLUTION #1

Written by: Rick Remender
Art by: Jonathan Wayshak
Colored: Jordan Boyd
Lettered by: Rus Wooton

Published by: Dynamite
Cover Price: $3.99

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

In the future, humanity believes that religion is the cause of all the world’s woes. So, they creates a “weapon” called DVO-8 which is supposed to solve all the worlds’ problems by wiping out the part of the brain that follows religion. This goes horrible wrong and creates a virile infection that causes all people and animals to devolve into horrible creatures.

DEVOLUTION tells the story of a woman named Raja. She’s trying to make her way to San Francisco to find an agent that can reverse the impact of the DVO-8. But, she stumbles across a tribe of “Nazi rednecks” living in what used to be Las Vegas. These are the first humans she’s encountered in her years of traveling across the country. As you can expect from Nazi rednecks, they kidnap her and try and force her to join their harem of sister wives. Meanwhile, on a base on the moon, a women named Martha realizes she’s become infected with something (I assume DVO-8) and she would rather fire herself off into space than infect anyone else on the base. The end of the issue shows Martha seeming to descend towards Earth.

One thing DEVOLUTION did exceptionally well was building up the world. We start with action, and just enough hints for the reader to realize we are looking at a demolished version of Las Vegas. The reader is immediately drawn in wanting to know more. But, unlike a lot of books where the backstory is dragged out, Remender gives us a quick exposition drop to help the reader understand exactly what is going on and why. I actually found this refreshing. I say all the time, a first issue should fully establish the premise of the book, and DEVOLUTION did exactly that.

I also found the concept to be pretty unique. Religion is a hotbed issue, and I thought it was a pretty ballsy move for Remender to hint at a world where people would decide to try and destroy all religion in an attempt to make Earth a better place. It's an extreme version of some of the posts I see people make on Facebook. We also see the wholesale destruction that could happen, although it's because of a mutating effect, not because people's lack of faith destroyed the world.

I thought Jonathan Wayshak's art was terrific. Like I mentioned earlier, I loved all the subtle shots of Las Vegas in the opening scene. I also thought that the action and violence of the world was done perfectly. It's always a tricky balance to show this kind of violence and destruction and not have it feel gratuitous. I really think Wayshak managed that balance perfectly here.

I feel like a broken record, but for the third time in three months, I found graphic nudity in a book I was reviewing that didn't have any real obvious "for mature readers" warning. I feel like we're in a new era of gratuitous nudity. As I keep saying, I am not a prude, but I do think that it's a bit irresponsible for comic companies to release these books without any kind of warning to the reader. On a practical level for me, I typically read my comics in public places (like the bus), so stuff like this bothers me more than it should.

I thought this was a strong start to the series, though there was some odd bumps in the road. I especially thought the end with the people on the moon was just real weird. I can’t help but think of THE LAST MAN ON EARTH or Y: THE LAST MAN, which both introduced people who avoided the great catastrophe portrayed in the story because they happened to be in space. For me (in all those works), these extra characters didn’t really add anything to me, and it just seemed like a waste.

I also would have liked if we got a little more of a sense of who Raja is. We get some hints through her narration and the way she interacts with other characters, but for the most part, we have a much better sense of the world around her than we do the main character. I did like the idea that her father seemed to be a man of deep faith, especially with everything that was going on, but we don't quite understand why she has decided that she's the one who can save this world.

But all in all, I thought DEVOLUTION #1 was a strong, compelling first issue. Dynamite continues its' streak of really good first issues. Rick Remender seems in his wheelhouse when he's writing dystopian worlds, and DEVOLUTION seems to have a lot to offer the reader. I will definitely be sticking around for a few issues at least to see how this one plays out.


 

Title: Devolution #1
Written By: Rick Remender
Art By: Jonathan Wayshak
Company: Dynamite
Price: $3.99
Pros:
  • Real strong first issue in terms of setting the stage for the series
  • Great art
  • Compelling storyline
Cons:
  • Some gratiutious nudity
  • The main character wasn't quite developed as well as the world she inhabits.
Is it worth your $3.99? Yes! I thought this was a real solid first issue.  It did have some small flaws, but Remender is a good writer, and I expect that once this series really gets going, it will smooth out quickly.
Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0