Rating if the Book Were a Movie: PG-13
Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist: Tony Shasteen
Colors: JD Mettler
Letters: Troy Peteri
Cover: Tony Shasteen and JD Mettler
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
This has been a great week for new (at least for me) titles! “Nuclear Family” caught my attention with this cover. My first thought was an entire family asking the question, “Are you my Mummy?’ A very close second was how I liked the play on words with nuclear, even if it’s a gas mask. I certainly thought highly enough of it to add another new title to the stacks.
“Nuclear Family” #1 begins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1957. President Eisenhower is on the radio preaching against communism. You can tell the Red Scare is in full effect. The Korean War is still fresh in everyone’s mind and people are not too keen on the notion of getting into another war with China or the Soviet Union. That doesn’t stop them from being concerned about what Sputnik is broadcasting from space.
The story seems to focus on the McCleans, a family of four. The father and husband, Tim is a used car salesman and ham radio enthusiast. The wife/mother, Linda is a housewife. Robin is the teenage daughter and there is also an elementary school aged boy named Hank.
Tim is playing with his radio equipment in the basement when an air raid siren goes off. There’s a mad scramble to find everyone in the house and down to the basement. It’s just a drill, isn’t it? That’s what we think until we see bombs falling out of the sky.
The interior artwork in this book is mind blowing. Starting with the first page where Sputnik is in orbit around the planet Mr. Shasteen announces his presence with authority in this book. If the lines weren’t great by themselves the way the colors are done just compounds everything. The drawings are like getting ice cream with whipped cream. The colors are realizing you get chocolate sauce and sprinkles, too. Well done!
The first pitch got fouled off with this issue. The creative team had a lot to accomplish and a limited number of pages to make it happen in. There was a lot of focus on making sure that the reader understands this story takes place in the middle of the Red Scare. We get some character development. Dan will say or do anything to sell a car. Robin wants to enjoy having a social life with her friends. Hank is a sweet little boy that has his heart in the right place when he’s not harassing his sister. With all the groundwork laid out I see a lot of potential in this story going forward.
The dialogue helps give us a lot of information. It’s how we learn that Dan is shameless and Tim just wants to do his job as honestly as possible, which is commendable. Especially for a used car salesman.
The letters in this book are spot on. What I really love is the attention to detail. There is a cross stitch project that is hanging on the wall of the McClean’s home in a couple of panels. If you look closely you can actually see some of the stitches. Very impressive.
The story is a little slow developing, but it was easy enough to fall into. Being a historical science fiction piece this story is right up my alley. It moves along at a nice steady clip. I have a feeling the next few issues are going to blow our hair back. I look forward to seeing where “Nuclear Family” takes us next.