The Seeds by Ann Nocenti and David Aja from Berger Books
Review By James Bacon: This comic started at the end of Summer in 2019, with the second issue being somewhat delayed, and then the third and fourth issues being completed and published in a collected edition at Christmas 2020.
Without doubt, it is a story that is worth waiting for, and in the times of a global pandemic, where comics have experienced a difficult time getting to the readers, it was brilliant to publish this very odd and in many ways, prescient comic, but the creators were keen to point out this was an idea that was in the long time germinating, and was not reflective of events of 2019 and 2020; even so it makes a great connection about difference and media.
A catastrophe has occurred, and now the world is in a post-apocalyptic state, poisoned, dying but life continuing, faced with weaponized toxicity, gas masks and acid snow.
With little escape from the dreadful bleakness, some have disowned technology to live separately, blaming the tech for the downfall, taken space of their own in the Zone. These luddites who want to escape are given dreadful land, separated by armed ‘Safe’ officers and a wall which people can go through, once their tech is confiscated.
Meanwhile some Aliens have discreetly arrived, who wish to capture the seeds of a dying planet and set up shop in the Zone.
Into this we see press photographer Astra, who has an idea that something needs to be done about reporting on the Wall, which for her, is the great story, but her editor Gabrielee, is not as interested — she wants clicks, she wants sensation, she wants to give people a story that is both entertainment and addictive, and the Aliens may be this. Lola’s boyfriend Race, one of the aliens, is kindly, thoughtful and does not possess the cliched crazedness of his cold hearted, difficult colleagues who are harvesting earth, and humanity. We see Lola and Astra going into the zone, and the story progresses brilliantly.
David Aja’s art complements the grimness of this comic, he has a level of accuracy and clean line about the characters, while the backgrounds are black and white, the overall shading is a pale olive grey, adding a tonal grittiness throughout, yet his illustrative skill and line is always brilliant. I especially loved a series on ongoing scenes in Space, which seemed to be added because Aja likes space suits yet it is woven in and just adds to the overall beauty of the work.
There is a design that permeates the work, this is something that Aja brings, be it repetitiveness of image, or the nine panel pages, but the story itself has a level of depth I took my time enjoying this comic, looking and finding inspired moments, reflections and metaphors. This is a very thoughtful, unusual and strange work, but it tells an amazing story, speculative when conceived, it feels prescient and reflective of so many elements of the now, which is a frighteningly brilliant skill and makes for a fabulous read.
- Ann Nocenti is an American writer and filmmaker. Her comics include Daredevil for Marvel and Ruby Falls for Berger Books/Dark Horse.
- David Aja is a Spanish comic book creator and illustrator, best known for his work on The Immortal Iron Fist and Hawkeye for Marvel comics. He has won Eisner, Eagle, and Harvey Awards.