"The Great Divide #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Written by Ben Fisher
Illustrated by Adam Markiewicz
Colored by Adam Guzowski
2016, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on September 7th, 2016
One of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life is the unexpected handshake-turned-hug from another dude. I am fully prepared for the handshake. It's a part of business. There's no easy way to pull out of the bro-hug once it's initiated by the other party. Fortunately, I don't live in the world of The Great Divide, as those kind of interactions would be way more than uncomfortable. They'd be deadly.
Set in the near future, the comic features a dystopian society in which the faintest touch can kill. That's enough to turn the surviving humans into agoraphobes alone, but that's not all. In addition to witnessing a horrifying death caused by touching another person's skin, you also absorb some of their memories, effectively giving you a form of split personality disorder. This is presented in a chilling opening scene of a man running frantically into a bar looking for help after accidentally killing his family. He's going crazy because he can hear his son crying in his head. That is absolutely brutal.
Artist Adam Markiewicz captures the heartbreak on this man's face perfectly. It's one of sorrow, regret, and guilt. Where Markiewicz really succeeds is in the death throes of the victims. Blood spews from every orifice suddenly and without warning. The whole process is over in a split second and they're dead before they hit the floor.
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I have a lot of questions about this disease in The Great Divide. It creates a very intriguing environment, but there are holes. Since death is the result of touching, how do you decide who lives and who dies? If two people high fived, who would die? In the opening pages, someone grabs that raving man's arm and they die, so maybe it has to do with who initiates the touch, but then the opposite happens later on in the issue. It seems rather inconsistent, although maybe I'm just nitpicking. Also, we don't get any idea as to where this came from, but that's totally OK, especially for the first issue. It's not needed to get into the guts of the story.
Since touching is out of the question, the epidemic wreaks havoc on the population. People can't procreate if they can't touch one another...unless they were some sort of large body condom or something. Additionally, sexuality is repressed and comes out in creepy ways. Pornography and other ways to get off are like money. People can't resort of rape as they run the risk of killing themselves just for trying.
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There is a never-ending haze around the world of The Great Divide. Much of this is brought on by Adam Guzowski's colors. It's like the sun doesn't shine anymore. Maybe that's because people aren't having sex so the whole world just gave up. It's a constant state of overcast, casting a sense of doom and gloom over everything. Society crumbled after just a couple years, which is not yet enough for nature to take back the cities, but just enough to leave them in disarray. Things like broken windows and shot-up store fronts are the norm.
The Great Divide presents a brand new spin on the end of the world. It doesn't come with a nuclear holocaust or the zombie apocalypse. Instead, it comes with the lack of physical connection. You can't join hands and sing “Kumbaya” to fix this, as that would kill everyone. You strap on a gas mask and a pair of gloves and you hope you accidentally bump into someone as you're scavenging for supplies.