Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review: 'The Bunker' #1 by Joshua Hale Fialkov, Joe Infurnari

The Bunker: Volume 1I requested The Bunker on a hunch. Something about it attracted me and I thought, why not try something different. Although I'm happy to have indeed tried something new, I'm not quite sure whether I want to try it again.
On their way to bury a time capsule, five friends - Grady, Heidi, Natasha, Daniel, and Billy - uncover a metal bunker buried deep in the woods. Inside, they discover letters addressed to each of them ... from their future selves! Told they will destroy the world in the very near future, the friends find themselves, over the next few days, growing further and further apart. Though they've been warned against making the wrong choices, how do they know what the right ones are? Can the future really be changed, or will an even darker fate engulf the world?
Before launching into a review of the plot, I want to discuss Infurnari's illustrations. His style is both very rough, with figures that are never drawn fully, with edges and shades rather than colours, and yet quite expressive. By looking unfinished, it supports some of the ideas brought up by the story. He makes use of different frames so no page looks like the other and this gives the whole comic a very dynamic look that allows it to flow. On the other hand, the chaoticness of the illustrations very much reflects similar problems in the narrative where no idea seems to have been fully outlined. The only problem I had was the letters. The handwritten style of writing was incredibly hard to read at times. I thought perhaps this was due to the digital copy I had but after looking around I've seen numerous people having similar issues. Infurnari's style needed some getting used to and it's not exactly my cup of tea, although some frames were stunning in their use of colour. At times it is too explosive, too much all over the map. This leads me to the very confusing move between present and future. Sometimes it is said that we're currently reading a flash-forward, but sometimes you don't notice until half-way down the page. This wasn't helped by the fact that it was initially hard to separate the male characters from each other.

The plot in itself sounds very promising. It seems to combine elements from the (post-)apocalyptic and horror genre while also showing us the growing pains of the five twenty-something year olds. I found myself comparing it to the 2012 film The Cabin in the Woods which very cleverly played with tropes of both genres and subverted most of them. Sadly, Fialkov doesn't get close to packing the same punch, largely because his characters behave more like teenagers than people who have just realised they have the fate of the world in their hands. The cursing and shouting is overdone, as if they had to prove how cool the characters are. Simultaneously, there are holes the size of Texas in his plot, such as where the time machine came from and how it worked. If the traveling from the future to the present is such a big part of your story, surely you would've worked it out more? I don't know whether this will be explored more in the other installments, but it seems a rather crucial think to clarify, especially if it's one of your story's major selling points.

The characters are very much the standard horror group of friends, i.e. there's the brain, the jock, the virgin, the slut (I disagree with this term) and the fool. However, none of the characters are either worked out in such a way that they neither completely inhabit these character stereotypes nor rebel against them. In 140 pages, there was only one character whose backstory was really worked out and although I imagine the other installments tell us more about the other characters as well, it left the reader sort of hanging without any character to really empathize with. I do think there is a lot of potential in this story and I'd love to find out what happens next. Despite all of my troubles with it, I didn't want to stop reading because there is so much potential to it. It's because of this I would read the next installment.

Overall I give this book...

2 Universes.

There was simply too much confusion in the story for me to be able to give it a higher rating. I did enjoy reading the story and I want to know what happens, but that is partially due to the fact that I hope Fialkov fills all the holes and creates a narrative that can be followed without losing track constantly. Infurnari's art needed some getting used to and although it was at times very impressive, it also felt a big chaotic. I would recommend this to people who are fans of post-apocalyptic stories and aren't adverse to puzzling. I wish I could've given it a better rating.

1 comment:

  1. Well, that's a let down. I read the description and got really excited! Then read your review and was considerably less excited. Oh well, you can't win them all! Thanks for sharing :)

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds