Post-apocalyptic fiction has always been a popular genre of comic book, and with Scout’s Honor #1, Aftershock Comics continues the tradition.
Survival is the beating heart of post-apocalypse fiction. Often this translates to the survival of a single individual like Mad Max or a small group of characters, but the end game of these stories is often much more about the survival of a society. The question of whether society will repeat its greatest mistakes in the aftermath of mass-extinction is the most important theme for any post-apocalyptic story. In Aftershock Comic’s Scout’s Honor #1, society is rebuilt by… the Boy Scouts of all people, and the result isn’t what readers expect.
The new series from writer David Pepose and artist Luca Casalanguida imagines a post-apocalyptic world run by a group known as the Ranger Scouts. Guided by a religious devotion to the organization’s founder, Dr. Jefferson Hancock, the Scouts have successfully established a semi-functioning society. Two-hundred years after the bombs fell and the Scouts scurried out of their bunkers, three scouts find themselves scavenging for supplies when they’re accosted by a gamma boar. One of the scouts, Edward is immediately gored by the irradiated beast. Leaving their comrade behind without hesitation, the two scouts left, Kit and Dez, hotwire a car and make their escape, but not before Kit fires an explosive arrow straight into the monster’s mouth. When the duo return, they’re met with applause, and Kit is given a valor badge. Though Kit is happy to be awarded a scout’s highest honor, they’re hiding a secret that could jeopardize their position in the scouts. But Kit’s secrets are small compared to what the Ranger Scouts have been hiding.
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Aftershock Comics have tackled the post-apocalypse before with the delightfully colorful zombie-apocalypse We Live, but Scout’s Honor feels undeniably distinct from that world. While it might seem like a standard post-apocalyptic story, the twists and turns in this first issue promises a unique take on one of science fiction’s oldest sub-genres. Saying more would step over into spoiler territory, but readers will have every reason to question just how noble the scouts really are. The foundation of the Ranger Scouts’ ideology is the Scout’s Law. These series of commandments seem noble on the surface with laws such as “A scout must always show mercy,” but by the issue’s end, readers can be assured that these laws are drenched in the same old-world sense of masculinity which led to the apocalypse.
While there are elements of Mad Max’s cruel world and Fallout’s irradiated mutants in Scout’s Honor, Casalanguida’s artwork imbues the world with a unique character. The use of heavy shadows and darker colors signal to the reader that something about the Scouts is off far before the characters themselves realize anything. As all great comic book artwork, it works hand in hand with Pepose’s writing to help this world feel distinct and lived in. If there’s one fault with Scout’s Honor it’s a minor scene where a woman practically throws herself at Kit after being saved by the scout. It’s a minor plot point, and most probably won’t notice it, but it leaves readers wondering about the place of gender roles in this world.
Too often, creators create post-apocalyptic worlds to give their characters an excuse to be cruel. With their might makes right undertones, settings like Fallout rarely address disability and other issues in a tasteful way. Readers can only hope that Scout’s Honor will continue to strike back at this authoritarian attitude in future issues.
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