In Nuclear Power #1, America is a sterile wasteland sixty years after the Cuban Missile Crisis turned hot. Major Tocci seeks to repair the genetic damage caused to the survivors, but can she come to terms with the abomination growing inside her? Find out in your next mighty Major Spoilers review!
NUCLEAR POWER #1
Story: Desiree Proctor & Erica Harrell
Artist: Lynne Yoshi
Publisher: Fanbase Press
Release Date: April 21st, 2021
Previously in Nuclear Power: In this world, the Cuban Missile Crisis turned hot. Sixty years later, all that remains of America are thirteen states, hiding behind a wall that keeps out the ‘grubs’ the mutated remnants of the rest of the US population. Under the strong rule of the Joint Chiefs, what remains of the American Dream depends on the genetic research of a few dedicated scientists, hoping to weed out the impure and restore America to greatness…
THE POWER OF X
This new, digital release of Nuclear Power #1 is…interesting. In a future where all that remains of America after the Cuban Missile Crisis blew up is the American Union, a collection of thirteen Midwest territories, guarded by a wall that keeps out the irradiated survivors, making sure the genetic heritage of those inside the wall remains pure is certainly an intriguing premise.
I’m just not sure whether I liked it.
I’m a sucker for alternative history works – SM Stirling and Harry Turtledove top the list of writers who’ve plowed those fields for decades, and ably combine what we know, with plausible alternatives that take the world on an entirely new track. The Cuban Missile Crisis, and its nuclear aftermath, has been the subject of alternative history, and now we have Nuclear Power #1 to add to the canon.
There’s a definite dystopian feel to what remains of America. JFK is mentioned, but as a founding father of the Joint Chiefs, not the American President who oversaw the hot war that erupted in this timeline. The Joint Chiefs keep the surviving territories under a tight leash, determined to maintain control, while increasing the birthrate (most pregnancies result in genetic abnormalities that end in abortion). Their propaganda insists that outside the wall, people they term ‘grubs’ survive, genetic freaks wanting to overrun the wall and take away all the hard earned rewards they’ve provided for the survivors.
Nuclear Power #1 is not a bad start to this series. The events that led to war sixty years before the start of this series is plausibly detailed. The political structure makes sense, as the armed forces, distributed across America, are the sensible sounding heirs where the national political class have been wiped out in a nuclear strike on Washington.
Unfortunately, for me, the writing is a bit sterile. I never get a sense of the inner turmoil facing characters like Doctor Tocci, who is trying to convince the Joint Chiefs there is a better way to reduce the level of foetal abnormalities. I also feel like the plotting is a bit predictable – the Joint Chiefs have a secret, there are people within the structure who would like to reveal that secret and improve the lives of the people, and there are those outside the walls ready to break in too…do whatever it is they want to do. Don’t get me wrong – the storytelling in Nuclear Power #1 is perfectly competent. It just didn’t grab me as much as I thought the set up should.
What I did like was Lynne Yoshi’s art. There are elements of anime in the posing of characters, and some of the facial features. I particularly liked the stark and sterile coloring pallet Yoshi has chosen. Rust red predominates; in fact, there are no other colors throughout Nuclear Power #1. Perhaps it symbolizes the emergency situation the American Union finds itself in. Or it reflects the destructive energy of atomic weaponry. Or even the stark choice its characters face – continue maintaining the Big Lie propagated by the Joint Chiefs, or rip it all apart and start again, in concert with the people outside the wall.
Nuclear Power #1 has an interesting twist towards the end of the issue, which I’ll leave for readers to decide. It certainly takes the story down a pathway I didn’t anticipate, and perhaps will give it the energy it needs for future issues to shine. On the plus side, the frank reality of abortions in this context is interesting, given the fraught debate over the issue in the real world. Overall, Nuclear Power #1 is certainly an interesting, if flawed start to the series.
BOTTOM LINE: SHOW SOME PATIENCE
I think with future issues, once the worldbuilding and set up of Nuclear Power #1 are out of the way, the writers, Desiree Proctor and Erica Harrell, will have an open field with which to expand their world and deepen their characters. It is certainly fantastic to have two female writers given free rein to create a world in which sensitive topics in our world are treated in a straight ahead manner.
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Nuclear Power #1
Alternative history that glows in the dark, Nuclear Power #1 is a faltering, but not crippled, start to what promises to be an interesting series. It’s one that should grow on the dedicated reader.