The Kids Aren’t Alright: Orphan Age #1

by Brendan M. Allen

Every generation improves upon the last…until now.
One day all the adults died, all over the world, at the same time.
Now it’s twenty years later, and the children – all grown up – are still rebuilding the world. Horses and caravans are the only thin lines connecting tiny, scattered settlements. Gasoline is gone, phones long-dead, television a memory. The only power in America is the New Church, the religion of the angry children.
In Dallastown, a stranger comes riding in, telling a story of escape from the New Church’s unstoppable Firemen. The Church is on the march, and the world might burn again – and the only hope might be a scared teenage girl, a gunslinger keeping his secrets, and a woman of few words and long knives. Welcome to the ORPHAN AGE.
Written by Ted Anderson (Moth & Whisper, My Little Pony, Adventure Time) with art by Nuno Plati (Alpha: Big Time, Marvel Girl).

The publisher’s blurb pretty well covers what’s going on in Orphan Age#1. We get a very brief scene showing a couple kids trying to wrap their young heads around the situation they suddenly find themselves in, then flash forward twenty years. The kids are grown, making do the best they are able without the comforts of modern tech, petroleum, or communication.

Ted Anderson doesn’t waste any time at all explaining how we arrived at the current situation past that one-page opening sequence. This isn’t a coming of age story. The growing up has happened, all between the first page and the second, and we’re here to view the results. Communities have popped up in the ruins of adult society. Transportation routes have been established. And, of course, religious zeal rears its ugly head.

Art by Nuno Plati is deceptively clean, but maintains a dangerous edge. There’s just enough detail to convey complex emotion through expression, posture and ambulation. This book has a lot of complex themes, which are expressed clearly, if not a touch too simply for the weight of the material. The overall effect works really well, intentionally putting the reader on their heels from cover to cover.

This is territory that’s been covered, many times over. Shades of The Postman, Children of the Corn, Revolution, TWD… An apocalyptic event takes out a significant chunk of the population, leaving a vulnerable surviving contingent to figure out how to survive in the wake. No elders to guide, comfort, or provide care. That being said, this is a strong opener. The world Anderson and Plati have envisioned is interesting and deadly. The characters are complex and well realized. The conflict is familiar and accessible, but has a lot of potential to go in new, compelling directions.
Orphan Age #1, AfterShock Comics, released 10 April 2019. Created by Ted Anderson (script) and Nuno Plati (art/cover), letters by Joao Lemos and Marshall Dillon, variant cover by Juan Doe, logo by Jared K. Fletcher.

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