Friday, 20 March 2015

Spread, Volume 1: No Hope Review (Justin Jordan, Kyle Strahm)


Ten years ago, Brian Bendis wrote House of M, an X-Men storyline where mutants stopped being born and their numbers shrunk to a mere few thousand. The day that happened became known as M-Day. Then, a year or so later, a single mutant - the first since M-Day - was born: Hope. She became the target of Mr Sinister who wanted to vivisect her and Cable ended up saving her, taking her back to the future with him and raising her as his own daughter. That storyline was a subplot in X-Men: Messiah CompleX. 

So what does this have to do with Justin Jordan and Kyle Strahm’s Spread? Here’s their setup: humanity is on the ropes as something is killing them off. A baby holds our only salvation - a baby named Hope. No (that’s his name), a scavenger warrior, must protect Hope from harm as sinister forces hunt them. The two must somehow defeat what’s killing everything and save the world. 

If you replace “humanity” with “mutantkind”, you’ve basically got the same storyline as Messiah CompleX. Real original, Justin Jordan! 

Then again nothing is very original about Spread. It’s your basic end of the world scenario. Like in every post-apocalyptic story there are a few surviving humans huddled in makeshift camps, living a hardscrabble existence now that civilisation has been destroyed. Scavengers roam the blighted countryside with mohawks and outfits with spikes like in Mad Max. The monsters are big toothy red things that splosh around the land like the Dune Sandworms - even their designs are near identical to what was in the movie! When the monsters/things infect humans, the humans become zombies. A post-apocalyptic zombie landscape - as if the market’s not saturated enough with those kind of stories! There’s even a bad guy straight out of a generic manga: he looks like a model with long flowing hair and he’s straight up evil, vain, and handy with a sword. Oh and let’s not forget the evil preacher too! 

There isn’t much to say about the paper-thin story: No and Hope (“No Hope”, geddit, that’s the subtitle AND describes their mission! Oh boy the layers on this thing...) survive against the Spread monsters, the manga villain and the evil preacher, and that’s about it. Tedious hyper-violent action (is there any other kind in a Jordan comic?) takes up most of the superficial plot. 

It’s completely unengaging to see these non-characters go through the motions and yet again I found myself wondering how Justin Jordan wrote something so poor. I think he’s a one-trick pony - Luther Strode was good, but everything else? Really, really bad. (I suppose the Shadowman reboot was ok - a two-trick pony!)

X-Men: Messiah CompleX wasn’t that great a book either but compared to Spread, it’s a bona fide masterpiece! This is a really unimaginative take on the post-apocalyptic genre that does nothing new and totally fails to entertain. The art is so-so but, once again, Justin Jordan’s script is a massive let down. Who knew post-apocalyptic monster madness could be so boring?

Spread, Volume 1: No Hope

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