Death Can Set You Free: 20XX #1 Reviewed

by Josh Davison

Mild Spoilers Ahead

It’s the future and things have gone bad. The ice caps have largely melted, flooding many coastal towns, including Anchorage, Alaska. This is where Meria lives, and she’s just gotten a promotion at her job. She’s set to become an editor. Upon arriving, Meria meets with her friend, Diana. While talking to Diana, Meria begins bleeding from her eyes and coughing up blood. It’s the Bethel Virus, and it’s 99% fatal. The 1% that survive become “syms.” They are immune to the virus, and gain an ability called STS, which stands for Selective Telekinesis and Sensing. That means they can sense and control certain materials. Using STS is illegal, and, as Meria soon discovers, syms are feared and alienated in society. Meria loses her job, and her only hope now is to find her cousin, Lucas.

20XX #1 cover by Jonathan Luna
20XX #1 cover by Jonathan Luna

20XX #1 gives us a semi-dystopian view of the future, where the world is dying thanks to environmental destruction and the viral horrors that it has unleashed.

That is one cool detail that appealed to me from the outset: the idea of a deadly virus being unleashed by the melting ice caps. That is a genuine fear some scientists have, and it’s fun seeing that idea explored in a comic.

20XX #1 has some other interesting ideas to explore beyond that, and Meria is a solid lead. Its premise feels a little X-Men-ish, and that feeling gets stronger as the comic goes on.

That said, it has elements that set it apart and could prove itself more unique in the issues to come. One such detail is how syms just get along in daily life. The X-Men often have mansions, hideouts, asteroids, and islands. It’s not often that we get to see them just getting on in daily life with the world knowing that they’re different. 20XX #1 gives us that in its opening issue.

It can be a little too on the nose at times, though subtlety is a little overrated. That said, 20XX #1 is pretty prone to just saying what it’s all about instead of showing.

Jonathan Luna’s comic art is brilliant, and he is quite good at showing the subtler details. He doesn’t provide a lot of heavy shading, which makes the comic feel a bit odd at times considering it’s black-and-white. I’m a bit more of a stickler for color than most, so it would bother me a bit that the comic doesn’t have color regardless. That said, I think Luna’s art here would benefit greatly from a color artist.

20XX #1 is an intriguing if flawed first step for this new Image Comics series. It’s narrative is very reminiscent of the X-Men, it can come off as a little too heavy-handed at times, and the art suffers some from the lack of color. That said, it has a solid lead, some interesting ideas, and the art still looks damn good. As such, I can still recommend it. Feel free to pick it up.

20XX #1 comes to us from writer, artist, letterer, and cover artist Jonathan Luna and writer Lauren Kelly.

Final Score: 6.5/10

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