Oblivion Song #1
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Lorenzo De Felici and Annalisa Leoni
Lettering by Rus Wooton
Published by Image Comics
Review by Justin Micallef
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Like trying to grasp sand and understand its form, Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici’s Oblivion Song has a constantly shifting perspective moment to moment. Far from the easily describable elevator pitches of past works like The Walking Dead, Outcast, or Invincible, Oblivion Song feels like a different beast all together.
Rather than hordes of impending zombies or aliens, Oblivion Song isn’t just a battle of species - it’s a conflict between realities. A dimension resting entropically upon our own, Oblivion is full of disease and monsters… and that was before it snatched thousands of refugees from planet Earth like the Rapture in reverse. While this earth-shaking event has certainly defined the tone of Kirkman’s story, so too has the inevitable aftermath - time goes on, apathy sets in, and when the story starts, the greater public at large has practically given up on traversing the Oblivion and saving those trapped inside.
But not Nathan Cole. Coming across as half-Indiana Jones, half-Reed Richards workaholic, Kirkman has crafted something entirely unique with his main character, as we watch him stalk his prey through the dangerous fields of Oblivion - with the surprising intent of trying to rescue people long thought dead. But even Nathan's flimsy mask of altruism - or even his more personal motivator of finding his lost brother abandoned in the other dimension - is still a facade, one that proves to be almost as intriguing as Kirkman’s sense of world-building.
Serving as metaphor, the Oblivion initially seem to be akin to something like climate change, a constant, creeping threat that’s easily ignored in favor of more immediate concerns. As Kirkman expands on the concept and how its experienced and interpreted by the world at large is where Oblivion Song’s adaptive quality begins to shine. For some, Oblivion acts as an extension of God’s persecution, and others, it’s a hopeless thing meant to be ignored. But in Nathan’s eyes, no matter how much he would hate to admit it, Oblivion is not only beautiful, but beauty incarnate. As Nathan spends more and more time taking trips into this absolute danger zone, you come under the impression that this is his absolute calling, his family and friends be damned. There’s a few choice parts where Nathan is able to empathize with others outside of the Oblivion but only in terms of describing the Oblivion’s sublime wonder.
And how sublime it is. De Felici’s art is vibrant and kinetic. Characters leap off the the page and jump into and out of frame. Ichor bubbles, and Annalisa Leoni’s colors bring an otherworldly hue to the vastness of Oblivion. The art in this book, as it lives through it’s juxtaposition of real versus oblivion serving the greater implicit narrative of the book, is a resounding success. The initial rescue sequence in particular has a pulse pounding quality reminiscent of the most adrenaline pumping moments of Mad Max. In addition, it’s not the quieter moments (which are great), but the spaces between them where Felici shines. The transition between the real world and Oblivion is as jarring for the reader as it is for Nathan and when away from its vibrancy, one craves a quick return.
Oblivion Song is a stellar debut from Kirkman and De Felici, as he dives into full-on sci-fi after his years in the trenches of horror and superheroes. Transporting readers to another world, the freakish creatures of Oblivion have their share of scares even as you fall deeper and deeper into a wondrous fantasy. It’s not just the danger, it’s the seduction of it all - so take your time with this Oblivion Song. Breathe it in, and let yourself explore this strange new world… but be careful not to be swept away.