What’s The Furthest Place From Here? #1 Advance Review

What’s The Furthest Place From Here? #1 Advance Review

Publisher: Image Comics

Price: $4.99

 
Written By: Matthew Rosenberg
Art and Colors By: Tyler Boss
Color Assists: Clare DeZutti
Letters By: Hassan Ostmane-Elhaou
Cover By: Tyler Boss
 

Review By: Brandon Chandler
 

It’s not often that you begin a narrative so transfixed and immersed in the atmosphere that you find yourself losing all sense of where you actually are. For me, when these moments occur, it scores a victory for the narrative right from the start. Even now, I can only think of a select few books that begin their stories in this way, ones that drop you right in with no context, no backstory, and just let you roam. This is all a very dramatic way of saying that Tyler Boss and Matthew Rosenberg’s newest creator-owned title What’s The Furthest Place From Here? #1 is just that: an atmospheric, somber tale of young adults living in a grimy, post-apocalyptic world. Now from a glance, that might seem like nothing new, and you’d be right. Did we not just live through that post-apocalyptic YA boom during the early 2010s only to end up back at the same place? But I think what this book is aiming for is something a little different, at least at the moment.

As we begin our story in a wasteland, we’re given no context as to the state of the world. We only see it through the lens of our main characters, a band of young adults who engage with the forgotten (yet familiar to us) artifacts of their world. Vinyl records, in this world, represent a right of passage for those young people who have yet to choose their names. What struck me most about this beginning is that we don’t see any deep-set, cliched desire from our protagonists to “rebel against the tyrannical government” that we’ve seen many, many times in this genre. Rather, WTFPFH #1 (an abbreviation I love by the way) simply shows our character’s acceptance of this world and their desire for survival. It isn’t a narrative of societal transformation, but a reflection on their current state. After all, if you grew up in this world and were used to a system of living, what’s the necessity for you to change all of a sudden? It was very reminiscent of the old UK boys magazine Action with its serialized story, Kids Rule OK! where gangs of children and young adults roam the streets after the adult population had mostly died off. Yet it also features the tribalism (and brotherhood in a sense) of a Lord of the Flies or Stand By Me. This isn’t to say that the book wears its influences on its sleeve, quite the opposite in fact. The book combines the tropes of these other narratives and throws them together until something new emerges from the ether. And the ether in this case is the mad minds of Boss and Rosenberg.

And speaking of them…

The relationship between these two is incredible; it’s symbiotic, it’s perfectly synchronized, each playing off the other’s strengths. Rosenberg has a knack for writing the fast-paced, witty characters in a Bendiseque style, and Boss’s art complements that with the minimalist, yet incredibly sequenced and expressive style with each page. Considering that WTFPFH is quite a different approach in genre and tone than their last project (4 Kids Walk Into a Bank) it’s quite astonishing how well their relationship works here in the post-apocalyptic genre. On Boss’ art a little bit more: he often uses these incredibly thick inks, despite smaller pencils which makes the characters and their surroundings almost pop out, like something out of a Keith Haring piece. The colors are excellent too, with deep murky reds and oranges, moody grays, and an incredible shadow-colored page which takes place in a furnace that I want to hang on my wall. It’s absolutely incredible stuff, and Tyler is someone whose art continues to impress with each project. I admit I was a bit late in discovering him, not until the guest issue he did for Tynion and Simmond’s The Department of Truth. I was absolutely stunned by his unique style. (For those who haven’t, please check out Dead Dog’s Bite from Dark Horse which Tyler Boss did as a writer/artist this past year).

For any process nerds out there like myself, there is a three-page interview with Boss and Rosenberg in the back (with the letterer of the book Hassan Ostmane-Elhaou of Strip Panel Naked) that I recommend reading once you finish the main story. Also, there is a version of this issue that comes with a vinyl record with music specifically recording for this book, so for any vinyl nerds out there, here’s an extra incentive to pick up this book.

Okay…back to the review!

It must be said that this issue is not immaculate, even though my flowery description nearly made it sound like it was. The script has some dialogue flaws that I want to address. Rosenberg’s Bendisqesue witty dialogue, which generally works well in most scenes, can become grating to read in other scenes. Pacing is generally a complaint I lob towards dialogue like this because it seldom gives you a moment to breathe, and just take in the characters and their emotions. This was definitely noticeable during certain scenes (in particular during one where our protagonists face a rival gang) and nearly takes you out of the story. If the atmospheric opening was a way to hook you, this was something that nearly pushed me out. In terms of story, while I enjoy a slow burn that takes time to establish itself, I understand how that can be alienating to others. I can even acknowledge that this story was largely an introduction (which is fair to expect in the first issue) and not a ton happened in the story itself. It is mostly establishment, and I imagine future issues are going to be like that as well. The issue itself is also an impressive 64 pages, which means (assuming they keep this format) it’s going to be a long, slow burn for most of the story. If that works for you as it does for me, you’re in the right place. If not, this may not be a book you want to invest in full time.

All right…I’ve been mean enough to these two hardworking creators, how do I feel about a score?

It’s always tough to provide a score on some of these newer Image series because I feel it can be much easier to express my many, many written thoughts than giving an arbitrary number rating. But if I want to keep reading these like a good reviewer, I have to cough up my score. So, while not perfect, Boss and Rosenberg’s WTFPFH #1 is still an impressive debut for a very exciting duo in comics and could be something very special within the current Image catalog. That being said, my score is…

FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10

I’m definitely interested to see where the story goes next, and I would encourage anyone who is remotely interested in comics, Matthew Rosenberg, Tyler Boss, post-apocalyptic YA stories, or just stories in general to pick up this issue when it releases on November 10.

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