Written by Sam Read | Art by Caio Oliveira | Colours by Ruth Redmond | Covers by Ramon Villalobos, Joe Mulvey | Published by ComixTribe
A beloved topic in science fiction writing is that of dwindling resources, and the effects of overpopulation on the planet as a whole. This is the starting point of Exit Generation, from British writer Sam Read and artist Caio Oliveira. Like me, you may have thought you’ve seen all that before, do I want to invest time and money in such a well-worn concept? Well, Read and Oliveira do something very clever and turn the entire concept around from what you may be expecting.
Through a very useful timeline at the beginning of the book we learn that increasing pressures on Earth and its resources lead to the establishing of the Exit Project, the building of a vast fleet to essentially evacuate the Earth. Through an unfortunate miscalculation, only 95% of the world’s population can go, so 5% are left behind. So we follow humanity’s last hope as they set off for the stars… but actually, no we don’t.
That clever, genre subversive wrinkle Read throws in is that the air recyclers fail on the spaceships, and the 95% of humanity that went all die. We are instead going to stay and see what happens to an Earth suddenly reduced to just 5% of its previous population. Read cleverly interweaves two aspects of his story at the start, the big picture of saving Earth and building space fleets, and the more personal story of a couple, Matthew and Olivia, one who gets to go (Matthew) and one who stays (Olivia). This is especially relevant as ,after the death of all the people in space, we jump ahead 20 years to 2055, the 20th birthday of Jack, Olivia and Matthew’s son. Earth is now a world abundant in resources and there is plenty for everyone, though Read hints here and there that there were a few darker times in those 20 years. So, a post apocalyptic survival story of sorts?
Actually, no again. Read next throws at us an alien visitation, which Jack and his friends soon realise is far from friendly…turns out humans are on the menu for these alien visitors. Read has fun with this aspect, peppering the alien leaders dialogue with food puns, and the tone in general moves from the more serious to the more lighthearted, at least for a time. I found the shift in tone a little jarring to be honest, but then realised nothing should surprise me now. Read leaves us on a suitable cliffhanger as well, how can a really depleted Earth fight back?
Oliveira’s art at first I thought a little too cartoony, but on a second read-through I came to admire his simple clean art, his clever use of panels and layouts, and the fact the art never overwhelms the story. Read also helps by not overwhelming the art with speech and thought bubbles. My only real gripe is that the aliens are drawn far too obviously as bad guys from the moment they appear, a bit more subtlety in the design wouldn’t have gone amiss. We know Oliveira can draw people and environment well, I look forward to seeing him draw action and conflict scenes, which I am sure are on the horizon.
This is a really decent start for what looks to be a comic with a good premise, a well developed back story, and a group of characters that will develop as the plot progresses. Sci-fi with a unique viewpoint and a dash of humour should never be discouraged, so I look forward to seeing where Issue 2 takes both Jack and the reader.
Exit Generation #1 is released by ComixTribe on September 23rd.