Aleš Kot and Tradd Moore are known quantities in comics. When readers pick up a comic with their names on it, they generally know what to expect. That's not a bad thing. The former has defined himself as a experimentative writer inclined to direct commentary on modern political and cultural topics; the latter as an idiosyncratic and dynamic artist of action and violence. What is stunning about The New World #1 isn't that both of these creators are doing what they do best, but that they appear to be pushing one another outside of their comfort zone to spectacular effect.
The New World opens with a brief series of expository panels, exhaustive depictions of future electoral maps, annihilated symbols of power, and a new vision of the "city upon a hill." It frames our world as a broken one and leaps forward into a new reality shaped by the conflicts of today. This is what many readers have come to expect from Kot's creator-owned series and it continues to chase down themes concerning oligarchy, policing, and privacy as the issue continues. What may not be anticipated is just how much fun the story that follows the prologue is. Through parallel narratives, the issue explores a day in the life of super cop Stella Maris and hacker-turned-terrorist Kirby Shakaku Miyazaki. These sequences and their inevitable collision play into the tropes of a romantic comedy every bit as much as a post-apocalyptic narrative, and it is a delight.
Visions of a monumental wall, presidential palace, and sharp geographic lines between rich and poor are balanced by the actual act of living within these panels. The joy and fun found in many sequences don't diminish the seriousness of the problems that exist around these characters. Instead, they remind readers that the world is not solely defined by its flaws. In the face of terrible circumstances, people still live in every sense of that word. This can be seen in the small details of a raid, where families and children are witnessed in a hallway that projects history through graffiti. It is even more apparent in the homes and dance party visited by Stella and Kirby.
While there are several great moments of action in The New World #1, they are not the focus of Moore's work in this issue, serving primarily as appetizers for what future violence this super-powered might create. The most exhilarating sequence is one that focuses entirely on the action of dancing. Human forms sway, spin, and soar, each with their own unique build and musculature being put to purposeful use. It is a joyful exhibition of the same skills that made The Strange Talent of Luther Strode so exciting cast in a radically different light. The color work of Heather Moore enhances this sequence with the look and feel of a club captured perfectly. Her design creates the effect of being more alive and transforms the ultimate meeting between these two star-crossed lovers into something magical.
The New World #1 doesn't just read like the work of two great, modern talents; it is something more for both of them. By confronting dark ideas and serious themes, they have pushed back against these terrible observations with a reaffirmation of life. In the face of a totalitarian regime and public executions, life still struggles to find a way. This issue reminds readers of that balance, taking tools and styles used so often to construct violent comics and reclaiming them for vibrant dance sequences and streets filled with lively communities. Wherever the series goes from here, it has established characters, setting, and tone that make it distinct from either of their careers and the many dystopian tales of today. The New World #1 is a much needed reminder that joy and struggle occur simultaneously.
Published by Image Comics
On July 25, 2018
Written by Aleš Kot
Art by Tradd Moore
Colors by Heather Moore
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Design by Tom Muller