Black River

The depths of de­spair

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated comics -

Re­lease Date: 2 May

Pub­lisher: Fan­ta­graph­ics Writer/ artist: Josh Sim­mons

An end- of - the- world tale for those who thought Cor­mac McCarthy’s The Road was a bit too light and cheery, this new graphic novel from writer/ artist Josh Sim­mons is not for the timid or the weak of stom­ach. An ex­tremely adult and un­com­pro­mis­ingly bleak story, Black River takes us on a jour­ney into a post- apoc­a­lyp­tic night­mare.

Fol­low­ing a suc­ces­sion of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters that have dev­as­tated the planet, a small group of trav­ellers are for­ag­ing for sup­plies across the wastes of Amer­ica. One of them has heard ru­mours of a city that sup­pos­edly still has power and some sem­blance of nor­mal­ity, but their at­tempt to reach it soon pulls them into a con­tin­u­ing cy­cle of abuse and hor­rific vi­o­lence.

Ren­dered in a rough, jagged art style that cap­tures a des­o­late world but still finds mo­ments of weird beauty, Black River is a dif­fi­cult read, but wor­thy of in­ves­ti­ga­tion for fans of the more lit­er­ary end of the mar­ket. Sim­mons’s ap­proach is pow­er­ful but it’s also un­re­lent­ingly grim.

From a visit to a di­lap­i­dated bar to a run- in with a gang of rapists, the story fea­tures the usual tropes of apoca­lypse fic­tion but con­cen­trates al­most ex­clu­sively on the dark­est and most bru­tal ma­te­rial. It’s an ex­plicit and chal­leng­ing work, but the ex­treme vi­o­lence and gen­eral at­mos­phere of grotesque sav­agery mean it’s ul­ti­mately eas­ier to ad­mire Black River than to like it. Saxon Bul­lock

But there are no queues at the shops any more.

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