In Locust #1, Max is having a very bad day. Not only is humanity finished, but he can’t find a little girl named Stella. And all the while, he’s being stalked by a religious zealot. How does Max’s day go? Find out in your next mighty Major Spoilers review!
Writer: Massimo Rosi
Art: Alex Nieto
Letterer: Mattia Gentili
Editor: Andrea Lorenzo Molinari
Publisher: Scout Comics
Release Date: April 14th, 2021
Previously in Locust: the world ended, not with a bang, or a whimper, but with the insane buzzing of tens of millions of infected. The virus spread from West Africa, taking unawares a world grown smug in its sense that it was forever. But pride goes before a fall, and when human civilization falls, it falls hard.
Writer Massimo Rosi has crafted a fantastic opening with Locust #1. Full of brooding melancholy, a world empty of people and a future, Locust #1 starts off strong and only gets stronger. Rosi makes clever use of several flashback sequences to help illuminate Max’s backstory, and how the world ended up as it is, empty, echoing and full of menace.
Max is a former fisherman, caring for his mother while saving to buy a house well away from New York. On a return trip, he and the other members of the crew hear a news report on the radio, about a new, deadly virus emerging from West Africa. Disturbingly, it talks about how America is wide open to infection, and the men argue about how dangerous the virus will be.
Comparison with Covid-19 are valid, and given Locust #1 was written during the worst of the Covid outbreak (unless I’m totally wrong, Rosi is Italian and Italy was hit very hard), the sense that things could’ve been far, far worse than they were (and things were awful in many places) hovers over this opening issue. Indeed, Locust #1 posits a world where a new virus from an exotic location did in fact cull the population. And, given some of the imagery we see during the issue, it simply wasn’t a virus that felled humanity, but what that virus did in perverting humanity to turn on itself.
COVER THE FACE OF THE GROUND
Of course, Locust #1 can’t be content with just the after effects of a virus. It is simultaneously a meditation on what it means to the survivors knowing that they are the last humans alive. It is something of a road movie, and indeed, there are echoes of McCarthy’s The Road in the narrative. There are elements of religious zealotry, as Max contends with a religious convert intent on hunting him down. The snowbound streets of New York, filled with doom laden graffiti and abandoned vehicles, becomes a hunting ground as both men warily circle each other.
Alex Nieto provides the art. His coloring, depicting a formerly vibrant city gone to grays and blacks, is particularly stunning. You can feel the empty desolation seeping from each page as the silent world he is depicting unfolds on each panel. There is a real sense here that the Earth is moving on after the fall of mankind, that nature is reclaiming its place at the top of the totem pole. The opening panels are particularly acute in this regard, as Max contemplates the departure of man, set against a silent wilderness that has a beauty of its own born of the emptiness it holds.
There are genre tropes in Locust #1, to be sure. The virus mutates its victims, and the title of the series gives you a sense of that mutation. Every single end of the world trope you see in movies and books are on display here – man turning on man, the hunt for supplies, the endless loneliness that comes with the departure of humanity’s dominion. But in this creative team’s capable hands, there is an almost spiritual element added to the action, which makes Locust #1 a spellbinding read.
BOTTOM LINE: COUGH COUGH
Locust #1 is a superior slice of end of the world fiction, marrying the usual tropes to a melancholy tone and feel that sets it apart from its more pulpy cousins. The artwork is very good, bringing Rosi’s vision of an empty world to vivid life.
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Covid-19 has soured many on this sort of fiction, but I lapped it up. I usually enjoy the elements of the story showing the collapse of society, and dislike the scrabbling around in the ruins of the world (take note, The Stand). However, Rosi has provided a compelling ‘what comes after’ storyline, with the promise of more mysteries to be revealed.