(Action Labs Comics: Danger Zone, 2013)
Review by Brad Gischia
Words – Dave Dwonch (Issue 1) and Ryan Lindsay (Issues 2-4)
Pictures – Justin Greenwood (Issue 1) and Daniel Logan (2-4)
Colors – Brian Dyck
Created by Rob Ruddell and Dave Dwonch
Picture a world where a terrorist cell has done the unthinkable, then read Ghost Town from Action Labs Comics. Rob Ruddell and Dave Dwonch have done just that, and created a terrifying and engrossing reality.
The first issue is a synopsis of the path towards destruction. It is a vision of terrorists who will do exactly what they threaten to. There is secret underground research facilities, time-travel, and that’s all before they detonate a bomb in the middle of Washington D.C. This is a prequel to what follows, a crosscut of the key people at the key moments before the explosion. The terrorists destroy Las Vegas first, to show their intent and ability, but instead of bending to their demands, the government spends too much time trying to break the code, to find them, and they do the same to D.C. Issue #1 ends with the explosion.
Issues 2-4, titled “Godfathers and Daughters” and written by Ryan Lindsay, takes a different approach. It is a close-up of the resulting anarchy that his taken hole in the nation’s capital. D.C. has been divided up among those strong enough or scary enough to take power. Now called “the Rad” by those who live there, D.C. is the haven of warlords. A select few try to help by sending in rations and medical help. Others, like our protagonist, have found a new profession within the destruction. Nate Lawson is a “man who can get things”. For a price he is willing to go into the Rad and find things that were left by those in the mass exodus after the bomb went off.
Nate has few friends, and even those seem to be a stretch. He has a couple of people who help him when he needs it, but are also ready to turn him out if their backs are up to the wall. Nate is hired to get a woman out, the daughter of a rich man who stayed behind and is now the girlfriend of one of the warlords. Tricky business.
What follows is what you would expect and want from such a story, part thief, part smuggler, and all action.
The story is as ruthless as the setting and pulls no punches. I like the premise, and at the end of the last issue there is a tie-in to one of the plot points in the first. It works well, and helps us to remember that this is all one world; despite there being a different writer and focus in the last three issues.
There was an artist change as well between the first issue and the last three, but because of the focus change in the storyline it didn’t seem as noticeable as it might have. I also like the way that it was presented, having the first issue as a broad-spectrum tale, showing many people and the effects of events, and then following with a closer look at one character and his interaction with the resulting world. It forces you to take the whole thing in and then care about the people who are affected by those events.
Action Labs has a great book with Ghost Town. The future has not often looked so fascinatingly grim.
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