After natural disasters, mutations, and a Third World War push humanity to the brink of extinction, a message arrives from the stars that The End is in fact inevitable. The silver lining? 5,000 children can be placed in homing beacons around the planet to be saved and preserve humanity’s future. The trick is, getting them there in one piece.
We all know that 2020 has been a rough year, but it’s got nothing on the hauntingly beautiful hellscape that the Miranda brothers bring to life in the inaugural issue of We Live. As explained in the opening pages, mankind has rough go of it over the next six decades: nature rebels, displacing and killing millions upon millions of people with floods and cataclysmic natural disasters. There was also a conflict known as The Rumble War, which pitted “brother against brother” in what was effectively World War III. Finally, as if that wasn’t enough trouble, there are mutations that created unworldly monsters that infect others in a very zombie-like fashion.
In short, imagine Wall-E, The Walking Dead and The Day After Tomorrow swirled together into a delicious apocalypse smoothie. That’s the backdrop of We Live.
Cast against this harsh environment is a young pair of siblings: Tala, who’s 13, and Hotoro, who’s 5. Hotoro was chosen as one of the 5,000 kids who are to be drawn to the stars by the mysterious messengers that have warned of mankind’s impending doom. As a humorous aside, I did find it funny that after all of the crap mankind had been through, when they receive a message from an alien race giving them a countdown timer to extinction, they collectively shrug, look at each other and basically say “Yeah, that tracks.”
Tala has become Hotoro’s mother-figure, and has put the burden upon her young shoulders to get him safely to the beacon. From the get-go there’s a heart-wrenching element of selflessness in Tala’s sacrifice, because it’s very clear that she doesn’t have a bracelet, and the looming dread of what that final goodbye will look like was already tugging at the ol’ heart strings.
Hotoro, for his part, remains almost blissfully unaware of the tragedy that surrounds them almost everywhere they go. There are myths and superstitions that help Tala keep him away from dangerous situations for the most part, but even still, Hotoro is not completely sheltered. When a new friend of Hotoro’s is injured by a “Molder” – a mutated zombie-like creature, the grizzled bus driver/guide for the children is forced to put a bullet in her head. Hotoro is able to put things together, and the reality of the dark world he and his sister find themselves in rears its ugly head.
Juxtaposed against the fierce battle for survival and otherwise tragic arc that Tala and Hotoro are on is the gorgeous landscapes that the children are navigating through. It has a very Made in Abyss feel, with lush green buildings, overgrown by moss…nature fighting to reclaim its former territory in the absence of man.
The art is striking particularly when it comes to the environments, and helps We Live stand out in crafting the landscape as a character of its own.
The writing in We Live is strong, and particularly the closing pages of this first issue – which documents their mothers final words – is exceedingly powerful stuff.
Overall, We Live has a superb opening issue, and I would strongly recommend it to any comic fan out there who loves drama, post-apocalyptic narratives and lush environments. Definitely putting this on the pull list!