This week we check out the trade edition of Join the Future, recently released by Aftershock and created by Zack Kaplan and Poitr Kawalski, about a young woman’s mission for justice against the people of a technologically advanced city. Is the future bright for this series or this the wrong time for it to shine?
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: Zack Kaplan
Artist: Piotr Kowalski (Art), Brad Simpson (Colours), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Letters)
Price: £13.69 from ComiXology
Join the Future tells the story of Clementine Libbey, the Mayor’s daughter of the small town of Franklin, whose residents choose to eschew the technology available to them in the future in favour of a more old fashioned and independent life. However, when a representative of the all encompassing, futuristic mega city arrives in town to offer them a chance to join the future, the Mayor’s steadfast rejection of this offer leads to the death of both himself and Clementine’s brother. Now, alone and with nothing to her name but her father’s six-shooter, Clementine enlists the help of a local trader to face off against those who murdered her kin. But can Clementine match up to all the Mega City’s technological advancements or will she, like everyone else, end up being forced to join the future?
Zack Kaplan has scripted a truly gripping sci-fi/western in Join the Future, with an action packed story where the two genres literally meet. The plot is incredibly well paced and flows delightfully, never stuttering or stopping abruptly. The concept is very reminiscent of Image’s Lazarus but, on this occasion, being told more from the ‘waste’s’ perspective rather than from that of those in power. The character’s are terrifically enthralling, particularly Clementine, who displays a very Mal Reynolds sense of stubbornness and with it a similar likability. Of course, her journey is rounded out by her supporting cast, including the mysterious but self centred trader. Then there are the agents of the Mega City who, rather than being painted as evil come across as incredibly good natured, although the cracks in this facade do seem more apparent as the story progresses. However, it is disconcerting how steadfastly they believe their cause to be righteous (which makes sense as everyone is the hero of their own story).
As for the art, Piotr Kowalski matches the A-game quality of the writing with a gorgeous style that really resonates a Lazarus vibe as it evokes a very Michael Lark look of clean, smooth images. That said, Join the Future comes across as much more natural as colourist Brad Simpson goes for much more earthy colours that perfectly reflect the world Clementine and her family live in. Of course, not everything in this series positively reflects the past as Kowalski and Simpson also give us insights into the benefits of the future life with bright, beautiful towers of the mega city as well as it’s darker side in the vein of monstrous machines to destroy the places the future ‘conquers’. However, the best scene has got to be a later reveal of a hidden, abandoned city which is hauntingly beautiful as it gives Clementine a look at what she is missing while the readers get a hint of the power her adversaries wield.
Join the Future is an enjoyable piece of fiction from beginning to end. With tremendous writing and gorgeous artwork, Aftershock’s latest series ponders if progress stops for no man (or woman) or, if you can remain committed to your values, you can maintain the freedom to choose your own future. Either way, the best choice you can make is to check out this series