by Kyle Ellinger
Post apocalyptic? Check!
Zombie-style outbreak? Check!
Hatchet-wielding protagonist immune to said outbreak? Check!
Ok. I’m in.
While a lot of Spread is made up of things you’ve seen before, it never comes off contrived. It’s enough of a fresh take to get me excited for the future being woven in the newest Image comic, written by Justin Jordan and art from Kyle Strahm. Our story begins in a barren winter landscape among the wreckage of a downed airplane. However, this plane and this winter landscape are covered in a meaty red gelatinous organism made up of spikes, teeth, and tentacles. This is the Spread, and it’s taken over the world. Kyle Strahm’s art fits excellently within a pure winter landscape covered in the contrasting red, as you see the Spread as a background or the blood being thrown about in almost every scene. We quickly learn that the Spread can take many shapes, be it in giant form, as a “flyer” which makes short work of an aircraft, or as a “runner,” which looks to be a horse-sized four-legged mound of death meant to chase you down and kill you. And the Spread can also infect other humans, equipping them with extra teeth and tentacles for their enhanced murdering pleasure. In this way, Spread quickly separates itself from your typical post-apocalyptic romp or any typical zombie comic.
We zoom into the wreckage of the plane crash with the protagonist, No — yep, that’s the name — a grizzled man of few words who lets his hatchets do most of his talking. He settles upon the body of his friend who was killed by raiders picking over the scraps of the wreckage. Now, No must fight through the Spread and get revenge on the raiders who killed his friend. Upon catching up to these raiders, No finds them in possession of a child from a woman they killed. This child also serves as our narrator for the issue, which, after reading Saga, is a narrative strategy I’m quite comfortable with. What this child is, and who she is, will drive our story for the foreseeable future, as No battles the elements to keep her alive in a dangerous, wild, unpredictable landscape.
The first issue of Spread does a great job of making No a force to be reckoned with, while at the same time making it clear that the world he lives in could kill him at any moment. Much in this title feels very familiar, and that allows the environment and the characters to lead the way. The creators say they were going for a Mad Max feel, where society is scavenging on a past that has been laid to waste, while losing their humanity in the process. I, for one, want more of this world and am anxiously waiting for when we meet the other characters mentioned in issue #1. Spread takes us to a world covered in meaty tentacles with spikes, eyeballs, and teeth around every deadly corner. Yet somehow that’s inviting.
Check out other works from Justin Jordan and Kyle Strahm: