I’ll easily admit to being way behind on Wasteland. I’ve got both trade collections and need to sit down and read the whole thing from the beginning again. With that said, I enjoy the structure Antony Johnston has set up with the book, giving regular artist Christopher Mitten a break between arcs and writing a single-issue story for a guest artist. Issue #14 is one of those issues and features artwork by Joe Infurnari.
Michael has been a mystery since the series began. A ruin runner (a cross between a drifter and a soldier), Michael is found in the wasteland, half dead, by a preacher and his guide. Father Wornn tries to show the stranger kindness and tries to help him while his guide Hami, familiar with the reputation of the ruin runners wants to leave Michael where they found him. Of course, a ruin runner knows a few more things about surviving in the wilderness so even as Father Wornn helps Michael, it’s Hami who is grateful and appreciative for the additional help. But when Wornn begins having visions of Michael as a demon, he may finally be realizing the truth about the ruin runner.
Johnston’s story is a fascinating look at Michael and the conflicting character he is. At various points during the issue, it’s easy to imagine Michael as either an angel or as a demon. Those classifications end up being too simple of classifications for Michael. He’s neither heavenly or from hell. Maybe the way we see him in the beginning, helpless and trapped by his environment, is more in tune with what Michael is. Maybe it’s enough to say that Michael is just a man and does just what he needs to in order to survive. And that’s really what Wasteland is about; survival.
Christopher Mitten’s artwork on this series has been a defining aspect of the title but Infurnari’s artwork is similar enough to Mitten’s while providing a whole new experience. Using tones and stippling, Infurnari produces a dry feeling book. It’s a dusty and dirty world in Wasteland and Infurnari gets that across in ways I’ve seen few comic artists able to accomplish. Mitten’s artwork produces the same effect though some minimalism. Infurnari puts a lot of ink on a page but he’s able to produce a barren feeling in his artwork that helps define the world.
As I said, I’m behind on my reading with this title but for this issue, it doesn’t matter. You can easily dive into this issue as it provides tone and texture for the whole series without being indecipherably tied into the other thirteen issues. And it’s about an anti-hero or maybe a noble villain.
“Death Walks Behind You”
Written by: Antony Johnston
Drawn by: Joe Infurnari
Lettered by: Douglas E. Sherwood