[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
It is the year 2735 A.D. Humanity and animal-kind still struggle to coexist after the Human Personhood Accords (see… any Kamandi title for some background on this, I guess). The Earth is trying to rejoin the United Planets, and a part of doing so is offering up an Electric Warrior. The Gil’Dishpan, a governing body in the United Planets, bestow one Electric Seed to each of the planets so that they may have a powered warrior to duel other warriors from other worlds in the United Planets. Earth has split their Electric Seed so that they can have a representative from both human and animal kind. Ian Navarro’s brother, Oscar, has been chosen as the human representative of Earth, and Ian is far from happy about it.
Electric Warriors #1 takes place in the Cosmic Dark Age, the time that followed the Great Disaster that brought humanity low and animals to sentience. It’s something of a gap-filler between the futures of Kamandi and the Legion of Superheroes.
It opens up as something of a strange racism parable. Ian is the son of a father who wants animals and humans to coexist and a mother who is a segregationist. Ian himself deeply disdains animal-kind and brags about how humanity used to subjugate animals before “Cortexin,” the drug that bestowed sentience to the animals.
Yet, despite this deep resentment, he idolizes his more accepting and less bitter brother, Oscar, who has nothing wrong with offering himself up as an Electric Warrior, knowing full well he will likely die.
The comic acknowledges the barbarism inherent in a political system set up around super-powered gladiatorial combat. Ian talks about how brutally Electric Warriors die in the arena on the planet Covenant.
It’s an interesting and outright ambitious first issue, with a lead character your setup to almost certainly dislike but shows spots of near-complete selflessness in an advanced civilization that is trying to stray from war, but can’t leave it completely.
There are artifacts and icons that tie this to the present DC Universe that we know and love. That red cape on the human warrior on the cover is indeed Superman’s, and a lot is said about the Human Age of Heroes and, implicitly, the Justice League.
Travel Foreman may have been the perfect choice to bring this futuristic pseudo-dystopian tale to life. He has a style that can easily waver between grounded realism and spots of cosmic surrealism. He balances the familiar world of Ian Navarro and the alien, deep oceanic realm of Kana of the octopi people. He’s especially gifted in texturing skin and other surfaces to grant a hint of a visceral quality to the visuals. Hi-Fi pulls his weight with spectacular cosmic and cyberpunk coloring to keep the book popping and flashy while still balancing it out with tamer scenes and settings.
Electric Warriors #1 is an interesting read without a doubt. It’s a futuristic parable on race and the dissonance between so-called advanced civilizations and a reliance on bloodsport and violent conflict. Steve Orlando is trying something indeed ambitious here, and I recommend checking it out.
Electric Warriors #1 comes to us from writer Steve Orlando, artist Travel Foreman, color artist Hi-Fi, letterer Travis Lanham, cover artist Travel Foreman with Hi-Fi, and variant cover artist Bengal.
[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]