The New World

Cover to ‘The New World’ #5. Art by Tradd Moore, Heather Moore, and Tom Muller/Image Comics

by Mickey Rivera. Some call it naïveté, others call it fertile ground for the foundations of a new and better future. Either way you cut it, for better or worse, the way a young generation shirks the assumptions and ideals of the past is one of the driving forces of US society. If the enduring relevance of the Romeo and Juliet formula is any indication, this force is deeply entrenched in Western Society as a whole. This final issue of The New World does justice to the often underplayed revolutionary aspect of the Shakespearean trope, though it swaps the “misadventured piteous overthrows” of The Bard’s original with syrupy optimism.

Let me first say that The New World has been one of the most visually original books out there today, thanks to Tradd and Heather Moore’s beautifully kinetic artwork. Falling somewhere between a Hayao Miyazaki cartoon fantasy and the frantic energy of a Takashi Murakami illustration, this book’s art never weakens. At times it delivers a technicolor cyberpunk payload of overstimulation, at others the action smooths out into serene fields of pure color and line. Sometimes it touches the edge of abstraction, though never so earnestly as to lose sight of the plot.

The visual tropes and tricks that have worked wonders throughout the series are what you would expect from the writer guiding this project. Aleš Kot previously wrote The Surface (2015) and Wild Children (2012), both focused on the revolutionary potential of a sufficiently motivated group of young malcontents. In The New World, Kirby and Stella are the children of a prior generation that defined itself by a war that came after the destruction of the United States. Her job as a reluctant superstar TV cop and his life as a young anti-establishment hacker didn’t prevent the two coming together in a burst of passion at a nightclub. A day or two later they are more or less in love, and it’s believable enough, largely because the point here is not some hackneyed concept of monogamous true love meant to last forever. It’s young love which is born of a political reality that no longer rings true in the lover’s hearts, in true Romeo and Juliet fashion. Kirby and Stella’s relationship is meant to represent a generational shift that demands positive societal change.

Though all our present political concerns have technically been blown to bits by a mysterious barrage of nuclear weapons, The New World attempts to resolve some of the US left’s contemporary anxieties by means of a love story. This final issue certainly puts a cap on the plot, and gives readers a visually rich and exciting last ride. The final scenes nearly pop the seams open with sentimentality that feels a little too serious when compared to the playful revolutionary bite of past issues. But it’s an ending, and the creative team gives it the stunning flare and flow that’s become the trademark of this miniseries.

Visually and verbally, The New World has straddled a lava-filled chasm between pop-surrealism and complete anarchy. The lover’s fable buried under glowing mounds of experimental futurism gains just enough traction to be compelling, helped along by a firmly entrenched sense of radical optimism (in the face of possible annihilation). This issue ties the fable up with some harsh lessons and some unavoidable sentimentality, but lives up to the bizarre, politically-tinged carnival that came before it.

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Aleš Kot.

Art by Tradd Moore.

Colors by Heather Moore.

Color Flats by Ludwig Olimba and Heather Moore

Lettered by Clayton Cowles.

Designed by Tom Muller.

Production Art by Ryan Brewer.

8 out of 10


Check out this three-page preview of ‘The New World’ #5, courtesy of Image Comics!