Comics: The Wilds #1 - Reviewed

Growing up in my house, The Wilds was this camp people at my church sent their kids to every summer. Girls wore dresses, music and dating were strictly forbidden and daily devotionals and sermons were just a part of the summer life. I am thrilled to announce, hearing the term The Wilds no longer sends a chill down my spine or a shudder upon my body, thanks to the Black Mask release of The Wilds # 1, which is available to the public February 28, 2018.

Set in what we are meant to assume is the not so distant future, a plague has swept across America, leaving those not infected to defend themselves in a country that is now home to a multitude of zombie-like bloodthirsty infected humans known as Abominations. Many of those who have remained uninfected do so by living in a secured location known as The Compound, where “runners” ferry necessary, vital items and people between settlements in order to keep those inside both healthy and protected. The protagonist of this story, Daisy Walker, is the absolute best runner that The Compound has and she is utilized at every chance. Writer Vita Ayala does an incredible job of both capturing the terrifying state of our country as well as letting you get to know the main character in this first issue. The way she weaves a tale about a terrifying post-apocalyptic world yet also realistically portraying all of this issue’s characters is really refreshing. Daisy is a certifiable badass, she risks her life daily for a group of people depending on her, rescuing humans and slaying zombies, but you are allowed to see another side of her as well, a softer side. There is a scene in which you see her and girlfriend Heather make love, followed by an argument where you see how worried Heather is for Daisy’s life and safety, as she knows the risks she takes on a daily basis. It’s raw, human and emotional and you find yourself sympathizing with and understanding perspectives for both of the characters. Ayala is an excellent writer and has a real talent capturing the emotion of each character within her writing. Many times, the first issue of a new series struggles finding its footing and it is easy to make it feel very disjointed, frenzied and confusing, but that’s simply not the case with the first issue of The Wilds. Every moment is captured perfectly; you go through a wide variety of emotions throughout the issue which is extremely important in developing a solid fan base that will want to continue reading the series. I have little doubt that anyone purchasing issue one will be waiting in anticipation for issue two.

The art is done by Emily Pearson and holy hell is it good! There are plenty of zombie stories currently making their way around pop culture, whether it is comics, movies, books or television, so upon first glance, you may see The Wilds as just another zombie tale. As mentioned above, the story is truly special, but beyond that, the art is incredibly unexpected. It is soft, beautiful and feminine, all things that you just won’t see coming from a post-apocalyptic zombie tale. When a person thinks of zombies, usually frightening, grotesque images come to mind, rotting flesh, missing limbs, for example. The infection of the Abominations in this story does not manifest in frightening ways, in fact, it is completely the opposite. Those infected begin growing flowers in their affected areas. Soft, lush petals adorn their features, which, in my opinion, make these creatures even more haunting than any depiction I have seen before. In a storyline that you expect to have seen before, The Wilds is certainly full of surprises, the stunning artistic work by Pearson, especially.

The world of comics is certainly saturated with stories based upon other stories, based upon other stories. Sometimes it feels like no rock has been left unturned, no story left untold, so reading The Wilds was a true treat. It is smart, unique and well written. Its fresh spin on a widely utilized idea really surprised me and left me wanting more. The art just further adds to the inventiveness of the tale and I have little doubt that The Wilds #1 will draw in a great fan base for future issues. 

-Rachel Rutherford