Writer: Alan Davis
Artists: Alan Davis (p), Mark Farmer (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens on an Earth that has been utterly decimated by an alien invasion, and we see that most of the surviving humans are held captive by the alien invaders where they are used a slave laborers, or forced to take part in gladiator style fights. We then see a few humans have managed to elude capture by hiding underground, but as we look in on a mother & her young son on a food gathering expedition on the surface, we see they are cornered by an alien hunting party. After the mother is gunned down, we see the child is rescued by a group of escaped slaves, who are being lead by a man named Killraven. As the boy leads this group to the bomb shelter where he and his mother had been hiding, along with an elderly man, we discover that most of this group of escaped slaves have no idea what the planet was like before the invaders arrived. However, their hiding place is quickly invaded by the aliens, thanks to the tracking devices hidden inside the guns they stole off the hunting party, and Killraven's group has to run for their lives. However, the old man remains behind to detonated an explosive device, while Killraven's group speeds to safety. However, the group is quickly captured by a band of bounty hunters.
This opening issue draws upon some very familiar ideas, and as such there are moments where it's rather difficult not to see where Alan Davis is taking us. I mean the mother's death in the early going nicely sets up the ruthless nature of the invaders, but frankly one got the sense right from the opening page that she was going to be killed. The same goes for the elderly man later in the issue, but his death has even more of a staged quality to it, as it's hard to believe that on a world under siege, the man never got around to installing a device that would allow everyone to escape. Now I realize why elements like this are in this story, as both times Killraven's heroic nature is given a good showing. First when he steps in to rescue the child against the advice of his more self-centered allies, and later when the elderly man extracts a promise from Killraven to protect the child. I mean a character who is kind to children automatically earns themselves sympathy of the audience, and the deaths in this issue tell the reader that on this world, the invaders are a rather deadly bunch. Still, Alan Davis could've been a little more imaginative in how he presented these ideas to the reader.
On the other hand the story does a very nice job of introducing the complete newcomer to the world that Killraven exists within. I mean before this issue I was aware the character existed, but I had labeled him as a second-rate version of Conan the Barbarian, except his adventures took place in a futuristic setting. This issue introduces Killraven as a man who has spent his entire life in captivity, and while he looks to be a capable leader, and a good fighter, his ability to think on his feet is seriously impaired by his lack of knowledge about the world he now finds himself in. There are scenes in this issue where Killraven doesn't seem to be aware of the dangers he's facing, like when his group has their first encounter with the flesh eating black vapor. They also are unaware of details like the tracking devices that are within the guns they steal from the Martians, and the ease at which the bounty hunter captures the group on the final page makes it clear that Killraven & company haven't been at this game for all that long. I also enjoyed the idea that these people know nothing about Earth's history before the invaders arrived, as this effectively makes them freedom fighters who don't know what freedom is.
Alan Davis latched himself onto this book, and I guess he deserves credit for showing such devotion to the original source material, that he would actually remain true to the rather dated look that the characters wore during the original series. Now since everyone in Killraven's group looks like they've escaped from the disco era, I think it's safe to assume that these are the outfits that the invaders had them wearing in the gladiator ring. I also think that it's safe to assume that as the miniseries moves along Killraven & his group will loses these outfits, and take to wearing less inconspicuous outfits. Now that I've wasted half the column dithering about their costumes, I guess now would be a good time to point out that Alan Davis is providing the art on this miniseries, and given his hit & run approach to projects lately, it'll be nice to see Alan Davis committed to a book for its entire run, even if this run is only six issues. The art is certainly this book's greatest strength, the devastated ruins of Killraven's world, and the sheer ruthlessness of the invaders are both perfectly captured by the art. The flashback of the initial invasion is also pretty impressive, as are the various fight scenes.
Considering I entered this issue expecting nothing more than a showcase for Alan Davis' beautiful art, I was nicely surprised by a fairly interesting crash course in Killraven's corner of the Marvel Universe. Now I've read enough comics that the devastated future setting is rather old hat, and Alan Davis doesn't exactly shy away from using the old standbys, like the young child being on hand to witness the murder of his mother, and one it's hard to imagine this miniseries making it to its final issue without Hawk & Killraven ending up at each others throats. Still there's enough elements in this opening issue that caught my interest, from the idea that Killraven & his group are woefully ignorant of what the world was like before the invaders arrived, and the alien menace looks like it has gotten a firm grip in this world, and Killraven's group isn't quite up to the task of freeing their world.
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