Written by Alisha Weinberger
It’s Mad Max set in Savage Land, coated in spit, sweat, and human viscera. It’s Devolution #1 from Dynamite. The post-apocalyptic is now its own sugenre and everyone wants a piece of it. The last few years have been an explosion of any variation of zombie (let’s not forget that 2013 human-zombie rom com) or some teenagers sticking it to the dystopian man. In the fallout, we’ve had some successes, and we’ve had some flops. Either way, the sub genre as a whole tends to run on the repetitive side, so any attempt at a new approach is an admirable treat.
There are no zombies, no aliens or totalitarian governments. Instead, we’re given savage cavemen. Devolution opens with our main heroine, Raja, scavenging in what remains of Las Vegas. The rest of the issue wastes no time, and plunges deep into bloody, gritty action. Writer Rick Remender doesn’t drag the reader through lengthy exposition or preachy commentary on mankind. The plot is addressed almost immediately. Humanity, drowning in it’s own wars and waste, sought to put an end to the violence by pharmaceutically removing the brain’s ability to believe in god and religions. Of course, like any good dystopia, things go awry. The chemical agent begins devolving humanity back to vicious Neanderthals, and mutating all manner of flora and fauna into prehistoric monstrosities. Raja, one of a handful of still “sapien” humans left, journeys West to seek a cure.
For a miniseries, Devolution #1 starts us off on a great pace. However there is room for improvement. The opening pages introduce Raja with an omnipresent narrator but switches to her own perspective when explaining the post-apocalyptic backstory. It’s an awkward, albeit forgivable narrative transition. For a character so seemingly mysterious and only 4 issue left for readers to get acquainted, it would have felt more appropriate to read from her perspective from the start. Artist Jonathan Wayshak and colorist Jordan Boyd’s stylings are fantastically violent, detailed, but still fun and cartoonish. Yet there are a select few action panels that had the potential to really showcase their artistic chops, but felt rather on the safe side. This becomes especially apparent when you have cover art from the masterful Jae Lee, who conquered the post-apocalyptic wasteland in Marvel’s Dark Tower prequels.
The quirks are forgivable, considering the length of the series. It’s refreshing to see an original title try to take a stab at a new approach, especially from a publisher known for its many titles adapted from movies. Devolution is a bloody fun and fresh take on an all too frequented genre.