Apocalyptic futures are pretty much the order of the day now and there are many tropes and narrative directions that have been explored. For the creators, the trick is to keep the storytelling absorbing, the characters interesting and the visuals engaging while exploring different paths as yet untold. In SAM, it’s an interesting blend of Terminator and the Iron Giant meets Lord Of The Flies, as a small group of children seek to survive amongst the ruins of a broken city whilst being hunted by the new robotic master race. Their only advantage is that one of their group, Ian, succeeded in repairing and thus altering one of the robotic behemoths, now known to them as SAM, which has since acted as his guardian ever since. However, at the culmination of the previous book, Ian was taken in an ambush and SAM’s not been seen since.
It’s now winter, and a harsh one at that. The children’s diet is a lichen mush but they continue to scavenge amongst the rubble for anything useful, which naturally puts themselves in danger of being discovered by the robots. Their bravery and tenacity returns them to the place of Ian’s abduction and presumed death where they find the beeper he used to track SAM’s whereabouts. Finally understanding that SAM may be the key to their own survival they track it to the broken shell of a theatre, but it’s not just SAM they find. A new approach to long-term survival presents itself, just as they’re on the brink of it all being pointless to carry on, but to do so means the biggest risk they’ve taken so far; but now they’ve nothing else to lose.
Marazona’s writes the kids well, as they struggle to balance the seriousness of their situation with the inevitable hormones and posturing of pre-pubescent teens. Not every action is thought-through, and the dangers are very real and very bleak, but you get the impression these are good kids attempting to make the most of it under very bleak circumstances. Shang’s art, particularly the snow-covered ruins of the metropolis, is vivid and immediate, grounding the story in a desperate place with its Matrix-style robotic villains constantly bearing down on our small group. The pair give that group a heart, and you want them to overcome the odds, willing their survival.
Only one more volume to go, so if you’re looking for a strong limited series to sink your teeth into, especially as a gift for any young teens, then then this will no doubt go down very well indeed.
And if you liked that: Plenty more at www.cinebook.com