Review: Breaklands #1 (ComiXology Originals)

The first new title from ComiXology Originals amazing Autumn line up, Breaklands is set in your stereotypical sci-fi dystopian future where tyrannical overlords in strange costumes terrify their subjects while a brother and sister with mystical powers must evade capture from a bunch of Mad Max style misfits.

Publisher: ComiXology Originals
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Tyasetta, Sarah Stern
Price: £1.99 from ComiXology

Breaklands is one of those books which is packed full of potential, but doesn’t quite manage to make the most of it all in the first issue. It starts with the terrifying overlord who looks like Thanos in Transformer cosplay, but he still manages to terrify his people by tearing one of them to pieces. This is then contrasted with the world of Adam and his sister Kasa Fain, your classic orphan/abandoned children who must fend for themselves. However in an interesting role reversal, our story is set in a world where everyone has powers except Kasa – but it’s OK because she is a a kick ass archer instead! (Thinks Catniss meets Kate Bishop!) So, when Adam is ambushed by a group of Mad Max style villains in flying cars, while Kasa is out hunting a word skull headed bear, she must fight to save her brother. But how will she cope when everyone but her has powers?! (Even the bear!)

With an almost literal cliff hanger ending, this first issue Breaklands seems to end just as it is getting going. You finally have a grip on the characters, and their story and it’s over. It’s the perennial problem of books set in complex worlds which only have 20-odd pages to introduce everything. It’s a lot like recent ComiXology stablemate Delver, which didnt really deliver until it’s later issue. And like Delver this feels like a story which has enough in the locker to really come good in the long run.

It helps that Justin Jordan’s story is realised by some incredible art from the enigmatic Tyasetta. The landscapes and world building are just incredible, flitting from dark main city to beautiful forest landscapes which has this lightness and vibrancy to the colours which makes it really stand out, thanks to Sarah Stern’s excellent work. The line work has a real fineness to it, and a sense of intricacy without ever being overly busy and makes the whole series feel incredibly stylish and slick.

The character design is also really smart: from the tyrannical overlord in the beginning, who looks like something out of a classic Manga; via the skull faced bear; through to the eclectic villains at the end whose outlandish costumes feel like something from an 80s Saturday morning cartoon with their cobbled nature that includes a a 50s greaser, an elephant man and a girl who wears a skull for a mask. However, the real star is Kasa herself who feels like a really strong leading lady and by having all the odds stacked against, it means she is the perfect underdog heroine. How her story will tie in with the tyrannical villain we have yet to find out, but we’re intrigued to know.

Overall, Breaklands, is a solid if frustrating first issue, but one with bags of potential for the future. Like a lot of books we think it will require a couple more issues to really discover what this world is all about, however all the pieces are there for this to be something really enjoyable!