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Monday, October 17, 2016

Radiation Burn. James Johnson (Writer and Artist). WP Comics (2016)

An entertaining and engaging collection of science fiction stories that capture the devil-may-care tone and atmosphere of the underground comix decades ago. Without ever being old fashioned or unduly nostalgic James Johnson has captured the moving spirit of the comix and created an engaging and sharply funny set of stories.
Dead Tree introduces Jeddediah and Miclantecuhltu a skeleton shaped, luchador battle robot who are wandering a irradiated wasteland when they are attacked by a mutant, whom they kill. They take the mutant's severed head into the town of Dead Trees to claim the bounty and this do not go well. This is a smart version of a classic western storyline, where a stranger comes into town and upsets the status quo with unpredictable results. The story is full of sly humour and nice set ups, the climax is true to the anarchic spirit of the comix as well as the western stories.
The art is friendly and a pleasure to read, it has a rough quality which fits the story and tone. The cast are all lively and strongly expressive, in particular Jeddediah who is rarely as in control of circumstances as he would like to pretend.
Lil'Mutants is a suitably altered version of a troublesome children comic strip, two young mutants make trouble for neighbors and get into trouble themselves. In all the cases the trouble is entirely in line with the prevailing spirit of the comic. The joke does not quite come off, without the core of whimsy that supported the original stories the framework is not strong enough to support the weight that is put on it here. The framework is slightly at an angle to the content which muffles the impact slightly.
Son of A Demon is the longest and most successful story in the collection, it brings all of the elements together and adds something extra that gives it a strong force. Jeddediah,  Miclantecuhltu and Annabelle, a girl whom they met in Dead Trees, are captured by a predatory insect in the desert when they are rescued by a group who are interested in Miclantecuhltu. Jeddediah leaves group's base and encounters a stranger on a motorbike. Naturally things go downhill from there, they do so in unexpected and engaging ways. The final panel is a sharp break with the lighter tone of the rest of the story and adds considerable force and weight to the story.
The colours bring the story to life, they make the details of the context stand out much more strongly and give the cast an extra depth and vitality.
Fairwell is a nice one page joke that works very well.
Radiation Burn follows its own path very successfully, it has a sharp edge and a tremendous storytelling momentum that work together very well. James Johnson has a strong creative voice and that it is very welcome.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Kim Roberts. To purchase a copy of Radiation Burn, which you should to get the pleasure of a sharply original talent, you can get it from

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great review! I'm glad you enjoyed my comic.