Image Comics is no stranger to post-apocalyptic takes on North America. Little Bird, First Knife, and East of West are only a few examples of careful considerations of how the American empire might end in comics, each of them a uniquely thoughtful take on facets ranging from culture to ecology. Even Steve Skroce’s last work at the publisher—We Stand On Guard with writer Brian K. Vaughan—approached the sub-genre as the American military overreached in conquering Canada. However, Post Americana #1, the newest installment in after-the-fall, creator-owned comics fare, isn’t much concerned with the whys and wherefores of a desolate American landscape, instead it’s focused on the fun to be found in a world with no boundaries and an abundance of violence. Skroce channels the ultraviolent appearances and grungy future tech that made even the darkest chapters of We Stand On Guard a thrill to read and unleashes them in a torrent of nightmare sequences most effectively described as “fun.”
The plot elements are all familiar. Some of civilization has survived in a lavish bunker, recreating all the worst excesses of what came before, while remaining survivors are left to scrounge in a wasteland plagued by radiation and other horrors. Post Americana eventually settles on two avatars, one from each half of this divide, to explore the world together. One is tough and cynical, the other idealistic and driven, and there’s nothing much left to be said about them beyond that.
None of this is a problem for Post Americana because it utilizes elements of plot, setting, and character to present absurd sequences of decadence and ultraviolence. They are means to an end and that arrangement is clearly understood on the page. If there is any confusion about this series’ intention or goals, it should be erased at the point when a hardluck cannibal introduces Night Terror and Don—a satire of modern superhero flicks—before his leader The Flying Fuck arrives.
That brief description covering roughly one page of Post Americana may sound like a lot and that’s a substantial part of the joy this series delivers. It utilizes its genre to throw as much as it can at the wall. Even ideas that fail to resonate still ensnare one’s interest because of how they are presented. Skroce is the rare sort of comics talent who could make almost any idea intriguing. Hyper detailed panels, clearly considered technology, and an abundance of background gags ensure that every page of Post Americana is a fascinating affair. Left to linger on any single element for too long that novelty might fade, but Skroce isn’t interested in letting anyone grow bored, least of all himself.
Each shift in focus provides a new collection of comic and cringe-inducing moments. Whether it’s a militarized bunker prepared for invasion, an encounter with future farm life, or various marauding bands of survivors, there’s always a new laugh (and some gore) lurking around the next page. The debut issue’s pacing reads like that of a tech startup—ready to move fast and break things—and it works.
Individual mileage will vary. Post Americana possesses a sense of humor black enough to even meet the standards of 2020 and has little concern for life in any form. Some will be understandably disgusted by what’s on these pages. There’s no objecting to the quality of Skroce’s work and those who relish a comic book that abolishes sentimentality in favor of cynicism, irony, and violence will find this bleak take on the future to be an indulgent delight.
Published by Image Comics
On December 16, 2020
Written by Steve Skroce
Art by Steve Skroce
Colors by Dave Stewart0comments
Letters by Fonografiks
Cover by Steve Skroce