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Devolution #1

Devolution #1
Writer Rick Remender
Artist Jonathan Wayshak
Dynamite Comics

Rick Remender wants to put the Apocalypse back in post-Apocalypse dystopias.

In his new miniseries, humanity’s wars have continued, and rather than acknowledge the role of government and economics, people have pointed to religion as the scapegoat. Scientists developed a way to devolve the part of the brain that believes in God, but release of this mutating agent causes a global reduction of living creatures to sabretooth tigers and giant plants and atheist cave people who are, shocker, just as warlike as humans have ever been. Raja is a tough woman trying to survive amidst bands of brutes roaming the bones of the Vegas strip, trying to prove to her memory of her father that his God has no interest in saving Earth’s people. As these stories tend to go, she finds a band of humans but almost immediately wishes she hadn’t.

Dystopian stories have been especially popular in comics since The Walking Dead took off, and readers are justified in asking what makes this one different. For starters, the art is vivid and visceral, a real treat even when the subject matter gets pretty gory. The writing has a lot more sex and swearing than you get in the more popular dystopian comics – Kamandi never interpreted his world as “We choked on s— so our governments could compete in imaginary economic games.” But as base and profane as this book gets, the real draw is the examination of faith. On the minus side, the human camp leader uses religion to torture and control his people, and the swastika scalp tattoo is hardly subtle. But the premise is willing to say that accusing religion of all of humanity’s problems is a mistake, a distraction. There is no really great spiritual character, but Raja seems to value her choice not to believe and to potentially respect the choices of others as long as we can recognize the ways we are tricked into hurting our neighbors and rise above this. The evolution-creation debate has been going on for decades and shows no sign of stopping, but this book seems to be raising the question – why spend time arguing about the origin of species when so many of ours is intent on wiping the rest of us out? Whether the answer comes from a holy text or a university laboratory, Remender’s work suggests that we focus on peace and other noble ideals, and that gives his exploration of this savage Hellscape a compelling depth.

Come on down to Ultimate Comics in Raleigh or Chapel Hill and pick up a copy. And then, for the love of whatever you choose, be good to each other, okay?

-MATT CONNOR for Ultimate Comics