A strong first issue that sets things up well.
After speaking with writer Frank Van Lente about War Mother I was hooked. The series is perfect for science fiction fans, but also those who want a little meaning in their stories. A new home is required and Ana must find it with the aid of Flaco who is her sentient sniper weapon.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Two millennia from today, Earth is not the hospitable home we once we knew. Ravaged by an endless onslaught of war, disaster, and time, the world is littered with desolate badlands, fortified kingdoms, and secretive enclaves where humanity still clings to life… Enclaves like The Grove – Earth’s last known repository of scientific knowledge and bioengineered prosperity. Now, under the leadership of the lone protector called WAR MOTHER and her sentient sniper rifle, the denizens of The Grove face a critical choice: remain where they are and die, or find a new land and flourish. Can War Mother lead her people out of isolation and reignite the fires of a dying planet? And even if she can locate the distant citadel she seeks, can she fight back the horrors and perverse monstrosities that lurk just beyond her doorstep?
Why does this matter?
You don’t often see tribal sci-fi which makes this a unique pick up. It’s also well drawn by Stephen Segovia as he and Van Lente forge a story that has underpinnings of modern myth.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
They seem very bad.
War Mother opens with the lead character Ana scoping out a new location for her people to live in only to find freakish creatures in the process of boiling some traders. Oh sure, this has to be a good spot! Through the events of Ana relinquishing the blue lizard like creatures to informing the traders what’s up with this new locale, Van Lente paces the book and transitions between the now and the then well. By the end of the issue it’s clear what the stakes are. Along the way Flaco gets some good bits of dialogue too.
The trouble with being leader is highlighted well which gives this series a unique feel. Usually the hero busts in guns ablazing and the leading part is easy, but it’s clear Van Lente is exploring this aspect, which could lead to some interesting story beats in future issues. In this issue her leadership is established, but also the troubles of her people rejecting her new leadership (she offed the last leader) and the jealousy that might spring from having more power.
Stephen Segovia (with colorists Elmer Santos and Andrew Dalhouse) give this crumbling world just the right look. With vines and branches here and there seemingly tearing the old world down you get the sense that survival is a way of life. Facial expressions are clear and there’s some interesting use of shadow and light throughout.
Love this duo.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s a general ennui to much of this issue. The opening action is good, but from there it’s mostly talking heads and exposition. The pace is good, but you’ll be wishing for some spark or surprise. There’s a sex scene that seems to strive to fill this need, though it doesn’t have much to it beyond setting up the love between these characters. With that established it serves its purpose.
Is It Good?
The first issue of War Mother establishes the story, the stakes, and the characters well. The premise and its leader protagonist are interesting new angles on the genre. Unfortunately, the issue is just a bit dull.