(Black Hearted Press, 2014)
Story by Gary Chudliegh
Art by Tanya Roberts
For several decades now the apocalypse has been ruled by zombies, biker gangs, and all manner of retrofitted Jet Ski. Now there is a new story in the genre, that of the apocalyptic witch, brought to beautiful comic life in the new series Plagued: The Miranda Chronicles from Black Hearted Press.
This end of civilization drama comes from the mind of Gary Chudliegh, who has imagined a different spin on the last days. A plague has decimated mankind, wrecking havoc in its cities and sending those survivors and uninfected into a high-walled city called “Les Trois Sept”, where they take pills to keep the infection at bay. The company Reneco, also conveniently provider of the pills, controls the city and the security force that patrols it. Mackie is a free lancer, a man who goes into the infected areas in search of criminals and then nabs them for the security force. He is of the populace; wanting nothing more than to get into Les Trois Sept and keeping the company line “blame the witches”. Oh yes, witches exist, have resurfaced after all the eons and have become a reality in this world, and the brunt of the blame goes to them for the plague. Mackie and Dex, his talking dog, collar just such a witch in Miranda. For the rest of the tale Mackie learns not only the truth about Reneco but about himself as well.
Tanya Roberts (Strawberry Shortcake, TMNT New Animated Adventures) does all of the art and coloring for this, and her style is best summed up as “cartoonilly awesome.” It looks like something that would be seen on the Cartoon Network or a longer form animated film. It feels like you’re reading a storyboard with finished art, and her coloring adds to that animated feeling. If you look at her comic credits you’ll see that she has more than once drawn for animated properties. Despite that, this book doesn’t read like a kids book, although it is completely all-age appropriate.
Gary Chudliegh has worked all aspects of the comic industry, from production to lettering, and it’s obvious in the way this book is put together. The storytelling is finely done, and his pacing is timed to perfection. There is something innocent about Mackie’s character, a sort of blind leading the blind feel to him that makes him endearing. This is also the time of his life where all of his core beliefs are proved questionable so that his confusion and his fearlessness in the face of the unknown meld together to make him a likeable hero. (And he has a talking dog. Who doesn’t want a talking dog?)
The combination of Chudliegh’s story and Roberts’ art make for a real winner of a comic, as fun to read as it is to look at. Plagued: The Miranda Chronicles is a fine all-ages book that really is a delight to all ages.
Please visit the Black Hearted Press site for more info!
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.