Advance Review: The Heat is On in `78 MPH’ #1
by Tom Smithyman
If you can’t take the heat, get out of the…car? 78 MPH spend a lot of time explaining why its characters are in the predicament they’re in, but not nearly enough time focusing on the characters themselves.
Talk about global warming!
78 MPH, the latest series from Red 5 Comics, deals with a crazy post-apocalyptic future straight out of Mad Max and Speed.
A government plan to save the ozone layer a century ago backfired, increasing the sun’s rays instead of filtering them. Instead of saving the world, they turned the atmosphere into a magnifying glass. In retaliation, other nations launched their nuclear arsenals, only to have them explode in the bunkers because of the tremendous heat. That explosion was enough to slow the earth’s rotation. Traveling at 78 miles per hour enables people to escape the hellfire of the day. Think of it as the anti-Snowpiercer.
If that sounds like a lot of exposition, it is. And it gets in the way of any semblance of character development. In fact, writer Mauro Mantella tells most of the story in voiceover. Dialogue is sparing and used to set up the issue’s conflict, but not to resolve it. It’s a curious storytelling technique that doesn’t seem to pay off – at least not in the initial installment. Perhaps subsequent issues will pay off this storytelling choice.
Tomas Aira fares a bit better with the artwork. Nearly every page is dominated by orange-reddish hues as the band of survivors constantly try to outrace the ever-impending sunrise in their solar powered vehicles. Yet it’s Aria depiction of the few characters – their eyes in particular – that show the true depth of these people’s suffering. Whether it’s demonstrating how tired they are after running away from the sun their entire lives or the look of a mother clutching her infant as the sun is about to broil them, the images paint a better picture than the story itself allows.
The premiere issue ends with a glimmer of hope for the survivors, as well as a threat of a menace perhaps more malevolent than the sun’s heat. It’s hard to imagine that a story like this could continue for long without giving us characters to root for.
78 MPH #1 will be available for purchase on April 6, 2022.