In this post-apocalyptic world there are Pinks and Reds. There are rich and poor. There is the healthy and the sick; or at least they are believed to be. Pinks are marked–a face mask is their badge of shame.
A young, female, Red outcast dares to frequent the Pink sector. Enaia Jin, or En as she prefers, is not there for the drugs, although they are plentiful. She is not there to work. En makes the grueling trek every day, despite disdained looks, hostile comments and the sweaty press that is public transportation, to pursue a university education. En has a penchant for pretty rocks, a thing for a guy named Priest and a hankering for a decent bowl of borscht but I think we will soon discover she is far more than that.
Skin & Earth begins to scratch the surface of important issues such as the widened crevasse between the working class and the rich, our intolerance of difference and our fear of the unknown. It is scary how relevant many of these topics are today. The wall that separates the Pinks and Reds could very easily be the wall that, if he has his way, Trump will build to separate the United States and Mexico. A wall constructed out of fear, stereotyping and mass generalization of a portion of the populous.
There is a continued obsession with oil. So obsessed in fact, that the university jackets depict an oil rig on their patch. Apparently, we have not learned anything about protecting Mother Earth all these years later. We continue to deplete the planet’s oil resources and have not moved to new forms of energy.
Wealth still buys you everything, even a legal escape from reality. The legalization of drugs, including morphine, has made a significant impact on this post-apocalyptic society. Streets are plastered with shiny ads touting relief and happiness. A plethora of opioids are at your disposal. The wealthy are hiding behind pills trying to forget reality. The streets are no longer littered with junkies–these chemical zombies are well groomed and attired. They laze away throughout the city, their languid bodies dripping down the marble steps. This really speaks volumes about society that more money is poured into designer drugs and means of escape than alternative energy. Despite all the heavy topics and bleakness of this world, we are reminded that En is a young woman with desire and insecurity. Why won’t Priest call?
Skin & Earth sheds a light on relevant topics in an entertaining and visually captivating format. The panels are well drawn and read like a movie storyboard. There are many textual clues that aid in emphasizing the direness of this world. I love that Lights has paid attention to the small details such as faces in crowds, advertisements, and cityscapes. Or the lack of presence, such as empty seating to really hammer the point home.
There are vivid pops of color throughout the issue. En’s flaming red hair is a brilliant flash against the dully colored architecture of the Pink and Red zones. Remarkable sunsets are a pleasing contrast to the bleak landscape. The subtleties of emotion are also captured quite well. Contempt, fear, and pain come through in the eyes and lines of the character’s faces.
Skin & Earth will have you talking about current sociopolitical subjects and our future.
Lights has produced a stunner with Skin & Earth. This thought-provoking and entertaining narrative makes you hunger for more.