The town of Safe Haven is anything but.
Writer Ed Brisson and artist Johnnie Christmas’ brand new series Sheltered stood out as one of Broken Frontier’s Staff Picks of the Week for this Wednesday, and rightfully so. The pre-apocalyptic series asks the daring question: what would happen if the children of a fringe community turned on their parents in order to survive an oncoming world-ending disaster? The direction of Sheltered is immediately gripping, despite the fact that it sacrifices emotional weight for an intense pace, but as the issue comes to a close Brisson’s shocking cliffhanger left me dying to know how the children of Safe Haven will survive, who is left standing, and where Sheltered will take readers next.
Sheltered #1 also left me with some unanswered questions that rob the story of some of its emotional power. The plot of this first issue is great, as it builds towards the inevitable betrayal of Safe Haven’s parents by their own children, but without knowing the story behind these teens, and why they feel the murder of their parents to be so necessary, the violence falls a little flat. This shortfall, however, does prove to be one of the story’s greatest strengths, as the pacing is so fast, and the teens’ actions so rash, that Sheltered becomes an intense, violent thrill-ride. The trade-off between character development and plot is a matter of personal taste, but regardless of preference, Sheltered will surely grab every reader.
Sheltered #1’s art team of illustrator Johnnie Christmas and colorist Shari Chankhamma create several gritty and powerful pages to bring Brisson’s story to the page. The mix of Christmas’ inking and Chankhamma’s color palette perfectly represents the grim winter setting of Safe Haven, and as the story turns deadly, the colors turn darker and the inks heavier. Christmas does a fantastic job, moreover, of capturing the frantic betrayal the teens make with his pencils, where automatic weapons start firing, confusion runs rampant, and parents start falling. Whether the book focuses on the violence or the moves Safe Haven’s children are taking, Christmas and Chankhamma work well together.
Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas’ Sheltered is a great start to yet another new Image series. Sheltered is a story unlike any other on the stands, and it’s quite fun to see how the oncoming apocalypse influences different characters’ motives. Sheltered #1 left me wanting more, it left me wanting to know why Safe Haven’s younger generation turned on their parents, why they chose murder, and what this “apocalypse” really is, which all in all is a great way to guarantee an interest in next month’s offering.
Ed Brisson (W), Johnnie Christmas (A), Image Comics, $2.99