High Level #1 (Vertigo Comics)
What would the world look like a hundred years after an apocalyptic event? That’s the main driving force behind High Level, a new Vertigo series from Rob Sheridan (the artistic director behind Nine Inch Nails’ awesome live shows) and artists Barnaby Bagenda and Romulo Farjardo. While High Level certainly looks like a lot of the post-apocalyptic fiction we’ve seen in recent years, there’s also a strong underlying theme througt the first issue that hints at some larger things to come from the series.
Focusing on Thirteen, a scavenger in the desert wastelands, High Level showcases a world so far removed from an apocalyptic event that the people in this world have not only rebuilt their society, they’ve forgotten about the world that once was. After running afoul of some freakish mutants living in the desert, she’s rescued by a former colleague who charges her with returning a young girl to the “High Level”, a mysterious city that’s rumored to offer people a new chance on life.
From the opening pages of High Level, you may say to yourself, “I’ve seen this all before”. But as Rob Sheridan’s script progresses, more and more interesting layers are revealed about this world and the main character. Thirteen is definitely a girl who doesn’t require any rescuing, but she’s also pretty driven as well. It’s clear from this first issue that Sheridan has a plan for the rest of this series, and has a great handle on Thirteen and the world around her.
And what a world it is. Barnaby Bagenda and Romulo Farjardo’s art is pretty spectacular, showcasing a world that has bits and pieces of Mad Max, Borderlands, and even the Neil Blomkamp film Elysium. The two have a great, slightly cartoony style that works surprisingly well with this series, and like Sheridan’s script, shows great promise for issues to come.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from High Level, but I’m really glad I gave it a shot. Sheridan, Bagenda, and Farjardo take something that looks very similar at first glance, but becomes surprisingly deep once you take the time to really take it in. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get lost in the post-apocalyptic shuffle on the comic racks.