15th Apr2021

‘Geiger #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Geoff Johns | Art by Gary Frank | Published by Image Comics

I think it’s fair to say that people think of Geoff Johns as a DC guy. His runs on books like Green Lantern and The Flash are legendary, and he is of course currently heavily involved in Warner’s (who own DC of course) comic book based TV and film projects. His comics work outside of DC is very slim, limited to some work for Marvel the best part of two decades ago. So when he announced this book and the fact it would be published by Image, more than a few eyebrows were raised. The fact it was a brand new creator owned project was also a new wrinkle. Johns has only once created a non Marvel/ DC book, and that was Olympus for the European Humanoids publisher a long way back. So not quite uncharted waters, but certainly unfamiliar ones. Johns has made sure he has reliable help along for the ride, and so frequent collaborator, and superstar artist, Gary Frank is onboard too. Image probably couldn’t sign that contract fast enough.

So, what exactly is Geiger? The publicity blurb gives it a sort of Mad Max vibe. A nuclear war has left the Earth devastated, and the rag tag survivors all fight to survive, broken down into groups and gangs out to dominate the others. Tariq Geiger is outside of, and above all that. He is also, it seems, rather special. Interesting, if not totally original, premise. Let’s take a look.

It’s 2030, and nuclear missiles have just been launched. In Boulder City Nevada, one family make a dash for their shelter. The wife and child make it, but Tariq makes the mistake of going back to rescue the family dog. Seems his neighbours don’t have a shelter, and they want his. He tells his family to lock themselves in just as the first bomb detonates, and Tariq is disintegrated in a sort of Dr. Manhattan-esque way. Roll on twenty years, and Boulder City is a wasteland like everywhere else. People have to wear radiation suits to go outside, and one group are out hunting for supplies. What they didn’t expect to find was a huge wall made of old cars blocking their way forward. Or a man watching them who not only doesn’t need to wear a radiation suit, but with his hood and tattered cloak looks very much the superhero. In a post-nuclear apocalypse kind of way of course.

From what these scavengers say, The Glowing Man has been something of a local legend. After we learn just why Tariq is now called The Glowing Man, we get to see his lair. Living with his two headed dog, Tariq has constructed a home that has the veneer of civilization at least. Scratch the surface though, and he’s read every book in his library several times, and has to eat tinned beans for his meals literally every day. On the plus side he’s somehow alive, and also doesn’t seem to need his glasses anymore. Why does he stay? It seems that even though 20 years have passed, the shelter his family locked themselves into is still intact and though he can’t communicate with them, they are still alive in there. Hopefully. Geiger’s life though is about to get complicated. Las Vegas it seems has been split into various fiefdoms, and he’s come to the attention of The King, one of the Las Vegas bosses who wants to prove his dominance by slaying a certain Glowing Man…

Although there was little truly original in all this, I loved it. Johns has a track record in taking established scenarios and stories, and giving them just enough of a twist to make them interesting all over again. For me, this blended elements of Mad Max and The Stand by Stephen King, with a sort of Twilight Zone vibe thrown in for extra seasoning. Against all this big world stuff, Johns character work is even more impressive. We’ve barely met Tariq, yet feel for him already. We’re on his side, we are engaged, even though when he engages his ‘power’ he looks like Batman villain Dr. Phosphorus. Gary Frank’s visuals are as impressive as you would expect, just sublime stuff. He’s gone big with this book, large panels showcasing both this world and his fantastic art. A couple of single and double page spreads are jaw-droppingly good. Great stuff.

They say there only so many stories in the world, and I think Geoff Johns is a master at recycling ideas enough to make what’s old is new again. Derivative at times? Perhaps. Inspired by? Definitely. This book has definitely got legs.

Even if they are slightly skeletal glowing ones.

****½  4.5/5

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