As a meteor hurls towards Earth, the government begins mass evacuation of the population, but not everyone gets to come. One citizen in particular, our noble heroine, is denied permission to go as a result of her past. Throughout this first issue of Broken World, we spend our time following her through this broken society, as she desperately tries to sort out of her paperwork so she can go on the shuttle with her family.
From the opening splash page of a family of three standing in front a space shuttle, you think you know where this story is going. You are excited to see how the next three or four issues are going to explain to you how they got there, maybe taking it back to when the meteor was first discovered, slowly building the world and the characters within it, so that when that ending finally came, you would loathe that final panel because it meant the story was over. However, the script decides, somewhere towards the final third of the comic, to change gears and in the end it actually deals with a different storyline altogether.
While it is a good thing that the story managed to create an ending that may not have been completely expected, it was disappointing to see the shortcuts it took to get there. Rather than build your affiliation with these characters, with their troubles and their motivations within this world, it kind of just rushes past all of that, just so it can give you a surprise ending. It would have benefited the story immensely if the twist came 4-5 issues in, as that would have allowed you to become attached to these characters, to feel their pain as their imminent death approached, much in the way Melancholia allowed you to fully understand the characters’ feelings as they saw their own destruction racing towards them.
It must be noted that Broken World should not have just copied other works that came before it. However, doing so would have allowed the ending to have more of an impact. Not just because it would have fleshed out their characters a bit more, but it also would have allowed it to flesh out the world a lot more. From the start, the world is introduced as a place in utter chaos. There are factions facing off against each other: religion versus science, government versus the people, and a few others. However, rather than flesh out these interesting discussions that it does in fact present, the story rushes past them, once again just to get to that surprise ending by the final panel, and just like with the characters you cannot help but feel a bit cheated. It feels like they took a great story away from you, just so they could race towards what might seem like a better direction for the story, but without a fully established world, and without understanding all of the characters motivations for why they act the way they do, it all kind of feels forced.
It must be noted that not everything about the first issue of Broken World is bad. The dialogue between the characters is good. There are some interesting discussions that are presented, but as previously mentioned they never really get any room to breathe, so they never manage to develop past chalk outlines of a much bigger picture. The art is strong, as from the opening splash page of the family standing in front of the space shuttle, the world seems quite realistic. The characters are also visualized well through a well balanced color scheme that blends in seamlessly with the artwork.
Overall, Broken World is built on a great concept, but it squanders a lot of its potential in search of what may be a more unorthodox story. The tale that could have, and maybe should have, been told seems a distant memory, and what you are left with is a comic that is neither groundbreaking, nor all that challenging. It had a chance to deal with a lot of themes and questions that few comics dare go near, but rather than face them head on it goes for an ending that sets up an entirely different story. Whether that story will pay off is something the later issues will have to answer, but for now it is safe to say that Broken World seems like a missed opportunity to challenge the reader with a truly confronting question: who gets to choose?
In the end, Broken World #1 earns a middling 5.5 out of 10.