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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Just a Pilgrim. Garth Ennis (Writer), Carlos Ezquerra (Artist), Paul Mounts, Ken Wolak (Colours), Chris Eliopoulos (Letters). Dynamite (2008)

This is a punishingly bleak, very well written and fantastically illustrated story about the end of the world. The dying sun has grown bigger and dried up the earth, the seas have gone as hove most of the population. What remains is scrabbling for life fighting other humans and mutated marine life that survived the Burn. A group of people under attack by pirates are rescued by a man who calls himself a pilgrim. He quotes the Bible and offers to guide them to where they are heading for. The group includes a young boy, Billy who becomes intrigued by the Pilgrim much to his parents dismay. The pirates continue to harry the group until a final very violent confrontation. In the second part a group of people are under threat from creatures called sliders, they take over the bodies of the people they kill. This group have a plan to leave the earth with a cargo of human, animal and vegetable DNA. The Pilgrim arrives among them as the threats they face become critical.
The first story is the better of the two, as it relentlessly follows the logic of a situation where only extremes make sense. People still cling to ideas and structures that they carried over from the pre-Burn world, they are out of place in the new environment. The Pilgrim, a religious fanatic, is at home in this new world due to his extremity as is the leader of the pirates, everyone less extreme is likely to be ground up between the two forces they represent. The story is airtight, it unfolds with a rigorous logic, underscored with a pitch black humour that only adds to the parched tone of the story. The cast are pitch perfect and the conclusion as flinty hearted as it should be.
The second part backs away from the dusty savagery of the first, the context is slightly softer and the change is not for the better. Brutal strength of will rather than extremity is the key note and the inherent insanity of the Pilgrim is jarring in this setting. He is undermined as a character because the story required that he should be. It is a good story, it looses in comparison to the first one.
This is a very striking comic by a wonderfully talented creative team, at its best is has the uncompromising grip of the best horror stories, even when it slacken off a little it packs a considerable punch.

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