Review: Nuclear Power
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Publisher: Fanbase Press
Story by: Desiree Proctor & Erica Harrell
Art & Book Design by: Lynne Yoshii
Forward by: Dr. Katie Monnin
Study Guide by: Dr. Stephen J. C. Andes
Reviewed by: Joshua Raynor
October of 1962. The Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union is at its peak when the unthinkable happens: nuclear war. 60 years later, the remaining 13 states rose from the ashes to form the American Union, governed by the authoritarian Joint Chiefs of Staff and protected by a border wall to keep out nuclear radiation . . . and the individuals who were enhanced by it. Nuclear Power is a darkly poignant alternate history tale that posits the lengths to which a government will go to protect (or deceive) its citizens. When the Joint Chiefs’ dark secrets are revealed, will survivors on both sides of the wall join forces to fight for their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or will their differences forever divide them?
Wow. Just wow. I’m going to start this off by saying Nuclear Power is an incredible story. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, as I chose not to read the synopsis prior to reading the book, and boy was I surprised. This is a fascinating alternate history tale that really makes you think about just how easily things can change with one simple decision.
Nuclear Power felt like the perfect combination of The Man In The High Castle and X-Men. Desiree Proctor and Erica Harrell did an amazing job with this story. Throughout the book, I found myself audibly cheering for certain characters, cursing out others, and they even made me tear up at one point, which is something that doesn’t happen for me while reading comics very often. Their ability to convey such powerful emotions is one of my favorite aspects of this book.
But the writing is just the tip of the iceberg on this glorious piece of fiction, as Lynne Yoshii puts forth some award worthy work. The soft, yet powerful character designs pull you in and keep your attention locked. And she’s not afraid to push the envelope.
Something else that really piqued my interest was her use of various monochromatic palettes throughout the story. The book starts off in red-scale, which I thought was a perfect choice, as we were dealing with the Cold War and red was synonymous with the Soviet Union. We then jumped into a green-scale palette once we left the safe zone of the American Union. This sudden shift throws you off balance, similar to our characters, and is used several times throughout. Yoshii does a masterful job of using color and composition to help tell this story.
One other thing I wanted to mention, which is something that tends to get overlooked in the comic book industry, is Yoshii’s incredible use of lettering. Whether it’s dialogue or action sequences, her stunning visual language leaps off the page. There’s one, in particular, that really grabbed me. During a scene as some people are being shot at, we see BAM BAM BAM sprawled across the page, with a different character within each, being shot at. It was a brilliant use of onomatopoeia to show what was happening.
I couldn’t find anything I disliked about this book. Nuclear Power takes the idea of an Elseworld or a What If? story and makes it so relatable to what’s going on in society today. It’s a beautiful commentary on xenophobia and the perils of authoritarianism.
Nuclear Power is a must-read for people looking for something a little different. You still get your super-powered beings, but it’s the surrounding story that really pulls you in and takes you on a ride. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing a follow-up to this, maybe set further in the future. Or maybe even just another alternate history take from this team.
No matter what, everyone should check this one out as soon as possible. You won’t regret it!