Review by C.J. Bunce
TKO Studios is the new comic book publisher that surprised the industry early this year with an entirely new way to entertain readers. They release four books at once in a binge format paralleling Netflix TV streaming shows, and they offer each story available in a trade paperback edition and as six separate comic book issues in a boxed set. Readers buy whichever format appeals to them. The last positive is the publisher’s slightly oversized format, a size that allows more artwork space per page while still feeling like a comic book. But this is all formatting. The substance doesn’t pull any punches, with TKO bringing in some familiar, beloved writers and artists for their first round (check out our reviews of those series linked below). So does the second round measure up to the first? It was worth the wait, and fans will be pleased.
We’ll begin with Eve of Destruction, a zombie survival story in the vein of The Walking Dead, but mixing in several other influences and concepts along the way. The story is written by TKO’s CEO and co-publisher Salvatore A. Simeone and Steve Simeone, with lettering by Ariana Maher. The heavy lifting comes from artists Nik Virella, Isaac Goodhart, and Ruth Redmond who fill six issues with non-stop action. And if you’re a fan of John Carpenter’s The Thing, you might agree the creatures have more than a little in common with that horror film.
On the night of an important school dance, a girl’s separated parents, both women, are feuding over how each is contributing to the parenting the girl. A hurricane is closing in off the coast, and with it comes a change in biology fueled by changes in the Earth’s environmental conditions that are triggered by this new storm. The nature of the threat is specific and unusual–it is only targeting men and boys, and the results are on track to produce a kind of extinction forecasted in the title. Although it could be a story about feminism, it doesn’t have any time to even broach the ramifications of this threat. This is a story about survival in the first hour of a disaster.
But the women empowerment subtext does come into play, a few times in clever ways, as in the case of the daughter’s former boyfriend who is a borderline stalker. The girl is tough and can hold her own, even when the guy just won’t stop. But his stalking takes a different form as the virus takes hold of the girl and her classmates at an all-night school lock-in.
The six-part story is really a set-up for potentially much more. The artists create a look with kids in school and soccer moms that plays out like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This book is for young adults and adults, but could play out for a younger teen audience (one of the characters who enters the story is 12) to include even younger teens but for some R Rated language throughout.
The fun is the surprise focus of the story–the speed of what is happening while trying to just survive a catastrophe doesn’t have time for the reflection, the why and how, and what ifs, that so many apocalyptic tales spend most of their time on. The best character is an army soldier with a teenage daughter, who joins the lead characters in their escape, bringing along some Ellen Ripley attitude to the fight.
Here is a preview of Issue #1 of Eve of Extinction, courtesy of TKO Studios:
Eve of Extinction is available now from Elite Comics and your local comic book store, soon to be available for ordering here at Amazon.