Series: Spill Zone #1
Published by First Second on May 2nd, 2017
Genres: science fiction, graphic novel
Nobody's ever really explained the Spill. Was it an angelic visitation? A nanotech accident? A porthole opening from another world? Whatever it was, no one's allowed in the Spill Zone these days except government scientists and hazmat teams. But a few intrepid explorers know how to sneak through the patrols and steer clear of the dangers inside the Zone. Addison Merrick is one such explorer, dedicated to finding out what happened that night, and to unraveling the events that took her parents and left her little sister mute and disconnected from the world.
This was soooo cool! I was pretty surprised by the review request landing in my inbox; Scott Westerfeld is a pretty big name and I never review graphic novels, especially those sent to me from the publisher. But this sounded awesome and I’m always excited about branching out from what I normally read. I’ll try my best with this review, but bear with me because I’m out of my element here.
First of all, I just love this story. The Addison is a photographer who routinely puts herself in danger by visiting the Spill Zone, where some weird event happened that left the area completely unrecognizable. There are zombie like creatures and possibly talking cats and the birds are frozen midair. It’s like radiation plus something even scarier and I haven’t quite sussed out exactly what the “Spill” is. But suffice to say, it was creepy as hell. And Addison is a bad ass for braving it armed with nothing more than her camera, some light body armor, and her motorbike. She needs the money though, because she’s now the sole caretaker of her preteen sister, Lexa. Who, by the way, has a creepy ass doll that talks to her. So yeah. I was pulled in from page one, heavily invested in finding out exactly what the hell is going on in the Spill Zone and wtf was up with Lexa.
The art was incredible, too. Puvilland (illustrator) and Sycamore (colorist) really captured the creepiness of the story. Sure, the colors in the Spill Zone were bright and frenetic, but that made it no less scary. Instead, the garish hues provided a stark contrast to the horrors on each panel. There were floating zombie type beings, which Addison lovingly called “meat puppets.” Creepy cats stared at Addison as she drove past, which actually isn’t unlike normal, unradiated cats, now that I think about it. Also the spiraling figure 8s of birds frozen over the hospital was chilling, along with the wrought iron sign reading “asylum” at the front gates.
However, Spill Zone wasn’t perfect for me. It fell into the same issue that I have with a lot of comic series, which is why I tend to put off reading them for a long time, when I know plenty of issues or volumes are out. Basically, cliffhangers. Addison is hired to complete the very mysterious task of retrieving a tape from the radiology rooms at the hospital. She doesn’t really ask too many questions, though, which left me frustrated because I’d like the answers. At the end of the book a new character is introduced as well. These two events left me with more questions than answers and it’s hard to give a higher rating to a book that doesn’t satisfy in that way.
I really enjoyed Spill Zone despite its flaws, though. It was fun and easy to fly through. The story and the character of Addison kept me wholly invested and engaged. I’m really excited to read more of the series, and I hope they’re able to put them out quickly. If you read and enjoy YA science fiction and dystopian books, I really think you’d like this graphic novel.