The Searchers meets The Grapes of Wrath in the first issue of The XII, written/created by Patrick Trahey with art and colors by Luis Suarez, and letters by Magnus. The Sacred City holds the promise of a better life for Caleb and his family. Unfortunately, they’ll have to travel the "Dead Roads" to get there. As winter falls upon them, they traverse the barren wasteland and quickly realize that their safety comes at a price – perhaps the ultimate one.
As first impressions go, the art makes it count. From the cover and all throughout the interior, Suarez’s art really pops. The color and the clarity are super bright and vivid. If the clarity is a product of the digital form I can’t be sure, but regardless it’s beautiful. I mainly want to point out the facial features of the adults and the children. There’s hardness to the adults that reveals the rough life they live, trying to grow crops and provide for their kin. While the kids possess a soft, almost cartoonish features. Well done Suarez.
Trahey’s writing comes off as natural which is a great compliment in my book. To use a sports reference, when you don’t notice the referee then you know he’s calling a good game. As I think about the writing, I realize that I didn’t even notice it until I had to think about it. You really get a sense who the characters are as individuals, especially Anna Belle and Caleb. I loved Anna Belle; her fiery spirit is what drives all the other characters. They all react to her.
I thought the middle of the story dragged on a little too long. As much as I thought a comic that’s central concern is how to maintain the crops for the winter was an engaging and original plot, a little trimming wouldn't hurt. For some of it, I was waiting for something to happen. I chalked it up to character development (which a lot of comics tend to pass over) and allowing the story to grow. At one point when Anna Belle is teaching her daughter to read one night on the front porch, a stranger approaches looking for food and shelter. After much deliberation and persuasiveness, they allow the wanderer to stay. He turns out not to be the friendliest guy in the world, but we go from them letting him stay, to him leaving in the morning. I would have loved to see more of what happened during his stay. What did they talk about over dinner? What more did he have to say about the ghosts? Who are The XII?
The XII is a five-part series, so there is plenty of time to see what happens to the family. While reading this it made me think of The Grapes of Wrath, and as I got through it, The Searchers. Enough to make we pop The Searchers in my Blu-ray player. There is a supernatural element to it as the story opens up a week before the events with twelve people dressed in biohazard outfits looking to get revenge on Caleb. What happens between now and then is what the rest of the series will reveal.
An enjoyable story, The XII part one hits shelves on February 21, 2018.