New this week from Image comes Debris, a fem-centric, story-driven tale that, in its first issue, sets up an interesting mythos but is hindered by issues with art and layout consistency.
Debris takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, plagued with water shortages and roaming monsters that seem to be spirit beasts enshrouded by clockwork and debris. The story follows our plucky heroine Maya, charged with protecting the last remaining human settlement from these creatures and ensuring their continued survival. Society seems to have evolved to the point of true sexual and racial equality as peoples of all ethnicities and genders work side by side in all castes from workers and soldiers to the high council. The village is called Maiden, which might be a little on the nose, but then again subtlety is not exactly what the book is shooting for.
Overall, this book has some really great things going for it. While post-apocalyptic stories are nothing new, this one is taking some innovative twists with the genre. Debris pairs this world with technology and souls, even giving the monsters a bit of a steampunk feel. Some have even described it as a Final Fantasy-like comic. The action is fast paced and flowing. The art, while taking a minute to get used to the sketchbook feel and ruddy colorization, is actually quite refreshing. This is not a smooth glossy world; so having a slick, high detailed, every-panel-feels-like-a-cover type book I think would actually be disingenuous to the story.
However, this is also where the book gets a little rocky, as the art is not very consistent. There are several instances where a great-looking action page is next to another page that should have similar pacing and therefore similar art. However, one looks great and the other feels just…unfinished. Awkward flipbook style movement in a panel seems out of place in some spots but used to great effect in others. There’s at least half a dozen panels where faces are nothing more than a few dots for a character’s eyes and mouth or left blank entirely, while from a similar distance full facial features are recognizable in other panels. There’s a spot where Maya is kneeling and drawing her weapons that consists of 3 shots in the exact same pose, one her hands are empty, next they have blades; all against the only panel in the book without a background. Literally feels like they were up against a deadline and didn’t get to finish the art throughout in a style that otherwise works great.
That aside, this is a very solid setup book to a world with a strong female lead (who also wears somewhat realistic clothing—think a cross between Laura Croft and Samus without being gratuitous or revealing) an innovative mythos, an appealing style, and an engaging story. I’m on board for the full 4 book run with the hope that the next issue can iron out some of the inconsistencies.