"Broken World #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Frank J. Barbiere
Illustrated by Christopher Peterson
2015, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on June 3rd, 2015
The world is ending...or rather, its end is being forced upon it as an asteroid hurtles through space with Earth directly in its path. The bulk of the population has been evacuated via a space elevator where they will find new life in the stars. Everyone is not guaranteed a ride up there though. That's the case for Elena Marlowe. Although her family has been approved, she has not. Now she must find a way off this rock if she hopes to live to see another day.
We don't get into the details as to why Elena doesn't have a ticket to ride. It seems that criminals and other ne'er-do-wells aren't allowed on board. This leads to so many questions about Elena's past and what she might have done to warrant this death sentence. That's really what it comes down to because it's not like she can rot in jail or something. The world is going to be destroyed. The government has decided who lives and who dies through some sort of lottery.
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There's a ticking clock running through Broken World as the asteroid gets closer and closer. There are still some people left on the planet at this time, around 25% according to the newscast seen at the beginning of the issue. Elena and her family have some semblance of a normal life as society begins to crumble around them. She still goes to work at a local university and still goes home to cook dinner for her husband and son. All the while, there's this feeling of dread bubbling up, like a pot beginning to boil. What if she can't get on the ship? What will happen? It can't be that simple, right?
Of course, there wouldn't be much of a story if she got on the space elevator and lived happily ever after within 22 pages; I hope you know that. The way everything falls apart is beautiful in its chaos. Writer Frank J. Barbiere leads this issue to a fantastic climax that culminates in a final page that completely reframes the book. It's one of those closers that make you want to immediately pick up the next issue. There's a page in this mess that really stands out, as artist Christopher Peterson shows these snapshots of everything falling apart surrounded by smoke and debris. It's a nice use of the gutters.
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There's a normalcy to Peterson's artwork. If you didn't know that an asteroid was about to destroy the planet, you'd think this was any other day at first. People are going about their business mere hours before everything they've ever known will be decimated. I'm interested to see what he brings to the rest of the series after the shit really hits the fan.
There's also a lot you can pull from the character designs. Whether it's the hard-nosed determination yet gentleness seen in Elena, or the clean-cut military men, you can get a basic idea as to the type of person someone is in Broken World based off of how they look.
Broken World tugs at the heartstrings as a woman faces the very real possibility that she'll be permanently separated from her family and there's not much she can do about it. This isn't a matter of getting a divorce and moving across the country. Her husband and son are heading into space and she may not be able to join them even as an asteroid descends on a collision course towards the planet. This drama is played out with the backdrop of the end of the world in a tense ride. It leads up to a final page that is entirely unexpected and will leave you screaming for more.