Prohibition is a stupid idea. It only took the United States 13 years to figure that out after ratifying the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which criminalized the sale, production and transportation of alcoholic beverages. Most scholars agree that prohibition really only lowered consumption rates by about 20 per cent, while forcing the people who still wanted to partake into funding organized crime to get their dangerously unregulated hooch. The 21st Amendment, which repealed prohibition, is remembered as a victory for safety and liberty, so much so that a modern-day brewer is named after it.
I guess the news hasn’t made it to planet Idori yet. Radio signals travel only so fast.
Idori is where the independent comic Warshiner, by writer Rebecca Rothschild and artist Katie Rodriguez takes place. It’s a picturesque world of beaches, barrier islands and bad bathtub booze, due to the local empire banning alcohol as a “cause of widespread unrest.” Unsurprisingly, homegrown beer still makes it onto the market, but it can’t compare to the legends of what comes from Earth, known throughout the galaxy as the source of the best inebriates available. Ziltoid must have had it wrong when he came for our coffee.
In issue #1 of Warshiner, we’re introduced to human botanist Evelyn Ambrose, who claims to be on the run and looking for shelter. A cigar-chomping island queen is more than happy to provide it, as long as Ambrose can produce some of that sweet, terrestrial nectar—enough to build an underground business. Needless to say, there are other, more powerful capos who wouldn’t take kindly to that development. I just don’t understand why the main one looks like Mewtwo from Pokémon.
Is It Good?
The beautiful cover of Warshiner #1 is followed by a gorgeous and funny introduction page that depicts the Earth with a giant tap handle plunged into its southern hemisphere. I wish Rodriguez had been able to keep up this pseudo-painted style for the book’s interior, as the story pages are a lot more “cartoony.” Some panels look “scratchier” than others, lending some inconsistency, but Rodriguez’s sequential storytelling is better than you might expect for a book at this level.
Things move at a brisk pace in this issue, which would be fine if the dialogue and narration could keep up. I tend to think the art should be able to carry most of the story in a visual medium like comics, but with an involved set-up like this, I want to know a little more about the characters, how they got to where there are, how they feel about what’s going on, etc. Rothschild does a good job of not just dumping exposition on the reader, but famine isn’t the only alternative to to feast.
I’m giving Warshiner #1 an “average” score, which probably looks bad, but I don’t intend it to be. This is a fun concept, with decent potential exhibited by both writer and artist. Being “average” in comparison to the throngs of professionally-produced comics we’re inundated with is not an easy accomplishment for a pair of relative newcomers. It’ll be interesting to see if and how Warshiner improves if and when there’s a second issue.