There are lots of good comics out there, but some clearly stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. “Don’t Miss This” shines a weekly spotlight on the books our staff writers think need to be on your pull list. This week we look at “Geiger,” the first new series from Geoff Johns since his departure from DC Comics.
Who Is This By?
“Geiger” is the all new creator-owned series by longtime collaborators Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. Both men developed the series, with Johns on script and Frank on illustrations. Colorist Brad Anderson and letterer by Rob Leigh round out the team, reuniting the four creators that gave us “Doomsday Clock” and “Batman: Earth One.” The series is written to stand on its own, but there have also been rumblings that “Geiger” may be the first in an array of books set in a new shared universe.
What’s It All About?
Protagonist Tariq Geiger was in the midst of an experimental cancer treatment known as systemic radioisotope therapy when nuclear bombs started falling and the Unknown War began. He managed to safely usher his wife and two children down into a concrete bunker, but he was still trapped outside when the sky burned white. In the shockwave that followed, Geiger was instantly dosed by an ungodly amount of radiation.
“They say it was the sickness that saved Tariq Geiger,” an unnamed narrator tells us at the beginning of the second issue, “that when the bombs went off and he got stuck outside . . . all the poison was bottled up, burning deep in his broken heart like a furnace . . . .” Twenty years later, Geiger is known as the Glowing Man, a mythic figure who roams the radioactive wasteland without a protective suit. Five issues into the series it’s not entirely clear what motivates Geiger, but according to legend, everything he does – good or bad – he does for his family.
What Makes It So Great?
The narrative is presented as a story-within-a-story and the creative team is determined to take full advantage of this structure. Johns and Frank do a great job of building a rich and exotic setting that’s become normalized. There’s not exactly a shortage of “Mad Max” adjacent, post-apocalyptic worlds, but the creators keep it fresh by incorporating and highlighting an array quirky, unusual details.
They also keep things moving. The pace can sometimes feel slow and steady, but the narrative never gets mired in a rambling backstory or superfluous exposition. The creators keep building the intrigue on multiple levels, without getting lost in the sprawl. They strike a great balance between giving us a unique, fully realized world and resisting the urge to explain every little thing. Parts of the story are told with conventional flashbacks, much of it takes place in real time and some of it has clearly been embellished over the years by previous narrators.
Geiger plays the role of the mythic hero, but it’s the characters around him that really grab our attention. Especially the two young orphans, Henry and Hailee. In contrast to Geiger’s brooding cynicism and weary disillusionment, the two young siblings experience the outside world’s cruel indifference for the first time. They’re scared. They’re lost. They’re alone. But they’re determined to persevere and Geiger can’t resist acting as their protector. This is the story’s beating heart and it gives our protagonist authentic purpose.
Johns and Frank have given themselves a dazzling box of toys play with and the results don’t disappoint. Frank, Anderson and Leigh weave a vibrant visual tapestry with great compositions, spectacular colors and brilliant character designs. Leigh’s lettering feels spot-on and perfectly in sync with the book’s emotional ebbs and flows. Once you’re wrapped up in the story, you’ll be counting the days until the next issue drops.
How Can You Read It?
The fifth issue of “Geiger” hits shelves today. You can read the first issue for FREE on the Image Comics website. You can also use the Comic Shop Locator to find an indie retailer near you. If you don’t want to leave the house, you can get it from your favorite online retailer or digital comics platform.