The age of heroes is over. Long after the Great Disaster that set back mankind’s development by untold years, humans have won their independence from their former overlords, evolved versions of the animal kingdom we know from our time. A human and an octopus have become Earth’s chosen warriors in a fight to take their place among the other spacefaring races of the universe. You know, that old chestnut.
Launching a new sci-fi series can be tricky. Do you drop people right into the status quo of an alien world or take your time getting the reader acclimated to the strange sights and customs? In the case of a miniseries, it can be even trickier. A story can run the risk of feeling too compressed, throwing concept after concept at the reader in an effort to tell an expansive story in the short page count allotted. The first issue of DC’s Electric Warriors falls somewhere in the middle.
Sadly not based on a T. Rex album and not borrowing much aside from the title and some of the class war aspects of Doug Moench’s similarly-titled ’80s dystopian sci-fi epic, Electric Warriors seems to be set further along in some version of the timeline from Jack Kirby’s Kamandi comics, showing us what happens when the world finally regains a semblance of civility.
The futuristic cityscapes are impressively illustrated and colorful, making the desperation of its inhabitants even more stark in contrast. Technology is at once rendered alien but somehow familiar. Even if we don’t understand the equipment being used, much of it is used for a purpose we would recognize (medical equipment, refrigeration, etc.), which helps the reader to grow somewhat accustomed to the setting of the story.
What is harder to penetrate, however, is the dialogue. Much of the story is told through neverending exposition. Huge blocks of text take up each panel as characters tell one another their own backstory that each should be familiar with, considering they know one another.
Of course, this is done to catch the readers up with the circumstances of this world and the motivations of the central characters, but it often feels very clunky. This feeling of being left behind is further compounded by the constant use of future slang and terminology we haven’t learned yet. I’m sure much will be explained in future issues and I don’t expect a story to hold my hand the entire way through, but I often found myself wishing the book would meet me halfway. It’s already a big ask to dive into a high-concept world without a primer, but when the dialogue continues to obfuscate the setting of the series, it’s difficult to find something to grab onto or come back for. I say this as someone familiar with Kamandi and the Great Disaster, so I imagine this is an even murkier read for folks coming in fresh.
What helps in this regard is the human aspect of the story, for lack of a better word. For all their talk of lightspeak and electric seeds, the characters have very relatable motivations: family, honor, love. It has me invested in the leads’ wants and needs, even if I don’t quite understand what their endgame is. The final page also reveals also an unexpected tie to the modern DC Universe that could be interesting to see play out in future issues. There’s a deification of today’s superheroes displayed by the characters of Electric Warriors that could play nicely off that last-page tease. If nothing else, I’m curious to see what this tale of DC’s possible future means for its present-day heroes.