By Brady Sullivan and Andrea Shiavone
A little self-contained, one off issue silliness here. It’s one of those all in the high concept things…. so here’s that concept….
“Adam was a loyal patriot, fighting alongside his countrymen against British forces to earn his country’s freedom. Then… something happened. He finds himself in the year 2011, fighting a new one-man war in the aisles of a gigantic retail store. Equal parts thriller and social satire, Revolution Aisle 9 mixes Rambo: First Blood and Falling Down, starring an out-of-time soldier in a sprawling labryrinth of our consumer culture.”
Yep, that’s it. 18th Century American Independence fighter lands in a Wal-Mart in 2012 (despite the PR copy saying 2011, it’s definitely 2012 in the comic).
It’s as predictable as you might expect after that. But there’s something quite neat and organised about the predictable tale here. This isn’t a comic to blow your mind, it isn’t one claiming to break new literary ground. It’s a comic book equivalent of a Twilight Zone episode, or in this country, a Roald Dahl Tale Of The Unexpected. And once you treat it that way, as a merely unassuming, simple little tale that’s simply trying to be a little piece of entertainment for the time it takes to read it, then it’s doing okay. No, not great, but not a terrible read by any means. It’s alright.
And alright is fine, alright gets a raw deal sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with alright. Hell, nowadays, when people ask how I am, alright is a damn good day. (And yes, I’m using alright when the OED says use all right. Screw it. Alright is alright as well.)
Back to Revolution Aisle 9 – the best of it comes early on, as the troubled soldier lands in 2012, and promptly gets a rude introduction to retail therapy….
All the weirdos, social misfits, in short the shopping general public (and if you’ve ever worked retail… you know what they’re like), they’re all here, and all creating this hideous cacophony of noise to our out of time soldiers brain.
Cowed, frightened, confused, it’s no wonder he gets completely the wrong idea when he sees the Red Cross outside the front doors asking for donations – “we’ll take your money or your blood” – and decides to hole up in the evacuated store away from the damned red-coats.
Yep, all that confusion allows Sullivan to make a few pointed digs at American culture, big corporations, and the general shittiness of the general public in a retail environment. But after that, it descends into the First Blood territory mentioned in the PR, and most of the fun clever stuff goes away, replaced by a few set-pieces, until the inevitable ending. There are still a few chances to get a gag in here and there but overall the fun of this all happens upfront.
Artistically Shiavone’s doing exactly what Sullivan is with the story and dialogue… a good, but not stellar job, nothing impressive, everything handled well, lacking a little visual clarity a couple of times, especially during the really fast paced stuff at the end, where the artist really has to be on hand to fill in the joins as the various law men fall foul of our displaced patriot’s Rambo style traps.
Essentially Revolution Aisle 9 is It’s well done, enjoyable hockum, a palette cleanser of a thing almost, nothing too extreme or involved, but just not enough substance to be much more than a reasonably well executed high concept idea too thin on the detailing.
By Brady Sullivan and JC Grande
Death Springs is, thus far, a web only comic from the writer of Revolution Aisle 9, and again it’s a high concept thing, this time mashing upp a couple of popular little genres and delivering a good zombie western, and about as all-out silly and fun as you expect from that little genre mish-mash.
The big difference between Revolution Aisle 9 and Death Springs is all in the delivery and the pacing. There’s just so much more space here to do things better. Revolution Aisle 9 had to be fast, but in doing so it skimmed over the interesting ideas. Here there’s just so much more damn space to do stuff, and that means it feels a far more satisfying reading experience, something that may well get more enjoyable as it goes on. Sure, the concept may be a silly bit of genre mashup, but when it’s enjoyable and rolling along, it’s easy to forgive that.
Here’s the first page…. should give you an idea where we’re at….
Oh yes, hero strung up for who knows what, zombie horde approaching, gun possibly just out of reach… what happens next…..
….. will be revealed next issue, as this first page is the end of the issue, and after this it’s a flashback, looking back to just how Jake got himself into this mess in the first place.
The basic story… well, it’s a zombie western, do you really need much more? Neatly set up with an ensemble cast of good guys and girls and bad guys who end up falling foul of an Indian Shaman and the once life-giving waters of sacred grounds, now polluted and corrupted, and next thing you know, the whole town is full of the walking dead. And yes, the ensemble cast and episodic nature of this does have the same feel as the other zombie comic you may be aware of – but that one hasn’t had zombie horses yet….
So, as a simple and fun thing, with all the characterisation of a reasonably decent TV series it’s doing pretty well. Like Revolution Aisle 9 this isn’t the most cerebral, literary or envelope busting sort of thing. In fact, if you’re after a Western that IS all of those things, I’d point you once again in the direction of Cheverton and Keable’s West series.
Death Springs is nothing on West, but few things are, and this isn’t even trying to be. It is trying to be a simple mashup adventure, a fast moving cowboy zombie adventure. And that it does rather well indeed.