It is unclear if anyone is really clamoring for any media that sees a global pandemic take an even more tragic turn than the one we’ve all lived through over the past 14 months. “Locust” #1, which lays out the case for a truly devastating scenario, tries to find new ground to cover in the post-apocalyptic space, and does so with mixed results.
Written by Massimo Rossi
Illustrated and colored by Alex Nieto
Lettered by Mattia Gentili
Most of humanity has fallen victim to a terrible plague that has turned them into giant locusts. As the locusts consume the earth, the uninfected survivors struggle to stay alive. During the “Great Transformation” a fisherman and his elderly mother try to escape a decimated New York City. Can they survive?
It’s been a minute since a post-apocalyptic story was a novel or rarely seen approach. It has become one of the more popular settings across a number of media, and has become a bit of an overplayed trope. It isn’t that good stories can’t be told in the setting anymore, it is just that there needs to be something that sets a story apart so that it doesn’t mix in with the chaff that is so prevalent.
And that is where “Locust” #1 fails. There are some moving scenes and some interesting ideas put forth in the first issue, but there is nothing here that is instantly memorable, save for one piece we’ll get to shortly, and even that is so briefly touched upon that it doesn’t land with the same intensity it should. And even though there has, quite literally, not been a time in the last 100 years that this story should hit close to home, it doesn’t.
The issue has a few very well done sequences, many of which are nearly silent, that really highlight Alex Nieto’s storytelling chops. Without a ton of non-visual information, Nieto lays out a world that is instantly understood. The way he draws New York avoids the classic tropes of the city, but rather makes it easy for the reader to picture this happening in their home city, wherever that is. While that may not be a positive in some cases, here it works to the story’s advantage, because for a book about a global apocalypse, there needs to be some universality to the artwork.
The story is told in a non-linear fashion, with flashbacks to various points in time happening throughout, and while the effects of this device can be jarring, writer Massimo Rossi manages to make the story go down relatively smoothly. The flashbacks give context to the actions of our protagonist, Max. An interesting choice that Nieto makes is that Max looks, essentially, the same before and after the apocalypse. This isn’t a Walking Dead situation, where Andrew Lincoln just got beardier and beardier with each subsequent season, but Max is already a guy with a thick, bushy beard before the world falls apart.
But Max is shown here as someone who is clearly motivated by some sense of what is right, but is also unwilling to let those morals stop him from surviving in this terrible new world. We see some creative violence on his part against someone from an organization called the ‘Phineas Priesthood’ who are led by someone named Ford. There are some remarks about them claiming to be a Christian organization, but also a cult, and also potentially child kidnappers/traffickers. We know that Max is on the hunt for a child, and that he believes that Ford is somehow responsible for the child’s loss.
This is the second bit of familial care of Max’s part, as another chunk of the issue is spent on him trying to get his mother out of New York when this virus starts to hit. It is in this sequence that we get the most unique part of the story, which is what the virus does to people. It seemingly turns them into human/insect hybrids; bipedal ants of some kind. This is an unexpected twist in the story, which hadn’t yet involved anything too far down the horror or hard sci-fi road. A pandemic of these sorts is far more interesting than a purely viral one, if only because it is something we haven’t seen as frequently.Continued below
However, it appears that the bulk of this story is about the survivors, which makes sense from a story perspective, but somewhat kills the uniqueness of it. Nieto’s bug dude was the most interesting thing, visually or plotwise, in the entire issue, and removing that is the gravest sin of the issue. It takes what could’ve been a really fun, new element, and relegates it to a footnote.
Overall, the issue goes down smoothly, and does a fine job of telling this story, but the question must be asked: why do we need this story? There is plenty of time to answer that question, but this first issue does precious little to differentiate itself from the pack of similar stories. That said, the art is strong enough that it is likely worth picking up a second issue, but hopefully that issue will give readers something more unique and substantial than what is found in the first.
Final Verdict: 6.7 – “Locust” #1 is an enjoyable, though slight, trek through a predictable setting.