The Two Gay Geeks are very happy to have Erin back with us for this book review. Our good friends at Fanbase Press sent us an advanced copy of their new release, Nuclear Power, a highly anticipated graphic novel.
Have a read of Erin’s review and the synopsis.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below. As always we welcome your feedback and input on all of our published content. Than you for stopping by and spending time with us.
October of 1962. The Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union is at its peak when the unthinkable happens: nuclear war. Sixty years later, the remaining 13 states rose from the ashes to form the American Union, governed by the authoritarian Joint Chiefs of Staff and protected by a border wall to keep out nuclear radiation . . . and the individuals who were enhanced by it. Nuclear Power is a darkly poignant alternate history of the Cuban Missile Crisis that posits the lengths to which a government will go to protect (or deceive) its citizens. When the Joint Chiefs’ dark secrets are revealed, will survivors on both sides of the wall join forces to fight for their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or will their differences forever divide them?
The first issue of Nuclear Power, Fanbase Press’ upcoming 6-issue alternative history run for mature audiences, takes no time in gut-pinching the reader into the world. The page-one panels give the setting. Page two gives the grave action, and the bomb – the incredible world-shredding bomb, is the full of page three. Ten small panels, 1962, the horror that could have been, displayed in unflinching style and impact, I couldn’t put it down.
I didn’t put it down. I read cover to close twice on the first night of my review assignment, twice the next day, and once again before I sat here to compose words to convey to you, the reader, that Nuclear Power isn’t quite like anything else — while all so familiar. It exists in an uncomfortable womb of reality fusing into art, a mirror fusing into both function and form.
Two main veins run throughout the story: an unabashed hatred and distrust of humans considered as ‘the other,’ and a nationalist, militaristic approach to reproduction and autonomy rights. Prescient. Terrifically poignant. Painful, at times. I would caution readers who may live with fertility issues to tread carefully with this series. Although utterly brilliant, the situations and beats surrounding the issue of reproduction and fertility are heavy. Outstanding in the portrayal, but exceedingly heavy.
Another note of recognition is woven into the thread of the character Dr. Tocci, a Major with the American Union’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. Clearly a capable mind, she is demeaned by superiors at a hearing by their questioning of minutia and referring to her as “Mrs. Tocci,” before she is dismissed with the line “…It means we can’t trust naïve young women who are ruled by their emotions.” And like a bullet, I knew her. I was put in her uniform. I’ve worn her silenced, dejected retreat. These characters from Proctor and Harrell, they are so nakedly human. They are who we are.
There are whiffs of Handmaid’s Tale colliding with X-Men in thematic arcs, but I would submit that the core of Nuclear Power holds its own unique, grounded impact. The authoritarian fist, oppression, and control runs thick in the three but what Nuclear Power manages to achieve that the former can’t quite line up to is the pulse that swells within our own life blood. Both Handmaid’s Tale and X-Men do a spectacular job of speculative social commentary, no argument, but Nuclear Power has tapped into a well of actual reality that knocks the wind out of sails.
Lynne Yoshii’s art is somehow, concurrently, both horrific and viciously stylized. The sharp, thick lines, like territorial borders, cut across the subtle dance of the softer places, those places where humanity fights to bloom. It serenades the words and work of the writers, Desirée Proctor and Erica Harrell, in an almost unfair perfect balance. The reader is charmed by the beauty of something so ugly and real; enchanted to move along the story that echoes as a tale they’ve known all along — and have lived with from conception and generational trauma.
Nuclear Power is the story of us and how our path could have forked at a bomb.
Nuclear Power is a 6-issue series published by Fanbase Press. Written by Desirée Proctor & Erica Harrell (Ultra Violet, Deadshot: Mercy, 2017 DC Comics New Talent Workshop) and illustrated by Lynne Yoshii (DC’s Gotham Garage, 2017 DC Comics New Talent Workshop).
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