AFTER THE GOLD RUSH, ISSUES #1-4
Writer: Miles Greb Art: Isaac La Russa & Elli Puukangas Publisher: Self-published
This review covers the first 4 issues. We don't have insight yet whether the current arc will end after issue #5 or 6, or if it's less arc-based and more of a serial style. But I'll make sure to update this review once we have that information.
WHAT IS IT?
An intellectual, sci-fi adventure meant to celebrate science and the scientific method and question faith-based belief systems, like religion, astrology, witchcraft (but also those who fear it without logical reason), and more.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In the not-too-terribly-distant future, a young woman named Scout crash lands on Earth and finds it much more wild than she expected.
She ventures out for food and supplies, studying her surroundings as she goes. On her way, she meets different people who live in the area. Each person seems to represent a different non-scientific belief, and most of them view Scout's technology and scientific mind as a threat.
Scout doesn't do much to help her cause. She tries to have conversations with them, but doesn't seem to be able to find a common ground. They're speaking the same language, but her words are strange to them, and neither Scout nor these people seem to be able to bend enough to think from the other's point of view. The science and education where Scout comes from is so different than what's offered on Earth.
A lot of these issues go this way, with Scout venturing forth to study Earth, happening upon a person, who's a symbol of a faith-based system of beliefs, there's some danger or confusion, and Scout moves on, trying to find out more about her ancestral home and why it's nowhere near as technologically advanced as she thought it would be. She also needs to find a way to leave Earth, eventually.
So, what will Scout discover? Why is the Earth so backwards and why have the planet's people abandoned science? And will Scout ever be able to leave this strange, old world?
Miles Greb's writing in this title is truly fascinating
The story flows like an atheist's parable, which is a really new experience for both a comic and media in general, since it's rare we get to see anything that's overtly atheist and science-based -- it could be a new method of storytelling, or at least a new twist on an old method
It balances adventure and the scientific method in a way that keeps forward progress while still making time for Scout to stop and fight faith with science
Greb's vision for the sci-fi genre is unique
He loves sci-fi, but feels like it's often too negative and focused on warning us against scientific advances
He thinks the genre should focus less about warning and more about goals and the positive aspects of science
I love Greb's concept of a story-obsessed society
It feels like you could explore this so much more and build some really interesting stories from it
Jamie Me gets to have some fun with lettering in this title, embracing sci-fi computer language, old-timey literature-style exposition and plenty of sound effects
La Russa's art for the first 3 issues is angular and sketchy, which helps to highlight the chaos and wildness of the Earth that Scout sees
As mentioned below, I didn't mind when the art shifts in issue #4 -- the smoothness of Puukangas' clean line art and Hankonen's refreshing colors brings a brightness
Me's vibrant sound effect work also fits better with the tone of Puukangas' are than La Russa's more aggressive, dangerous take on Earth
Color in indie comics is uncommon, but the color in these, especially when Hankonen takes over, is truly a delight
The backmatter is really enjoyable in these issues
Excerpts from the webcomic help fill in Scout's life before present-day and show us more of her motivations
Scientist highlights feel fun in a back-of-a-trading-card sort of way
Peer review section invites discussion
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
My personal opinion is that the science and atheism aspects can feel a little preachy and reductive of faith-based beliefs, but that could be a characteristic of the storytelling style
It feels like Scout travels, meets a symbol of something faith-based, shows it how science is superior, moves on, and repeats the whole process over again (which is why I mentioned it feels more like a scientific parable)
However, if you go into it expecting this parable-like tone, it might make for a fun and different comic book experience
Deeply religious people may feel insulted and defensive toward this comic, so it may be preaching more to the people who share Greb's beliefs than to those who might think differently
I didn't get that Scout was the last scientist until I read the website, but that might become clearer later on
The back cover offers a pretty convoluted explanation of the story, but Greb's website definitely simplifies it
The art team and aesthetic does shift dramatically at issue #4 (but I actually really liked it)
The panel layout of earlier issues can feel like it's trying to cram too much into each panel and page, which can sometimes make it unclear what's going on (especially with the sketchier style) and taking you out of the moment -- this is resolved in issue #4
Also, I wonder if the comic will explain the significance of "After The Gold Rush" as the title, or if it's up to us to decide on its meaning
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
If you're an atheist fan of science and sci-fi, or religious but open-minded to a high-brow adventure story in that vein, there's nothing else like After The Gold Rush. And if you're interested in new and unusual ways of telling stories, you'll definitely want to pick this one up.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Puc, The Artist by Miles Greb & Garrett Richert
Preacher, Vol. 1 by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon
Fantastic Four, Vol.1 by Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham
If you like the art:
Milford Green by Samuel George London & Mikael Hankonen
Heavenly Blues by Ben Kahn & Bruno Hidalgo
Tistow by Elli Puukangas
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Miles Greb – Writer
New Face: He’s been writing awhile, and he’s still breaking into the comics industry
He’s a writer, folk singer, atheist and science advocate who likes his stories to have an optimistic tone
Influenced by Sagan, Tolkien and Sakaguchi
Isaac La Russa – Illustrator
Does the art for issues #1-3
Owns 2 ungrateful cats
Keeps to himself, mostly
Elli Puukangas – Illustrator
Takes over the art on issue #4
Loves rats, horses and "all things Victorian"
Outlander: Lives in the United Kingdom
Michael Shepard – Colorist
No longer works in comics
Mikael Hankonen – Colorist
Outlander: Hails from Finland
Also studied cinema and video games
Jamie Me – Letterer
Dream Team: Also worked with Miles Greb on Puc, The Artist
Outlander: Lives in the United Kingdom
Multitalented: Has also written a few successfully crowdfunded comics
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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