2021: LOST CHILDREN #1 by Stéphanie Betbeder, Stéphanie Bervas, and Massimo Rocca
2021: LOST CHILDREN #1 uses great world building and the building of relationships to tell us about the plot and characters. We also see contrast through detail, and coloring that makes the comic real for readers.
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Dystopian Excitement!

Wars are undoubtedly brutal, but when you bring in children as weapons, you’ve gone a step too far. From writer Stéphanie Betbeder and artists Stéphanie Bervas and Massimo Rocca, 2021: LOST CHILDREN #1 shows the horrors of war in futuristic society.

A History Lesson

2021: LOST CHILDREN takes place in the middle of a civil war between the United States and Detroit. Having separated itself from the United States, Detroit serves as the focus of the war. In a recent attack on the city, four children were deployed as soldiers. It soon becomes clear that these children have extraordinary abilities, but at a cost. Every time they use their abilities they age abnormally fast. Regardless, these children prove themselves highly dangerous and highly trained. On a mission to destroy the man currently ruling over independent Detroit, these children are ready to fight to the death.

Along the way, they run into some people living in a very run down building. These people offer to help the children, but when soldiers find them all, there’s only so much these new people can do. After the children are split up, an old man they had met helps one of them, while a young boy helps the rest to escape. Meanwhile, a child with two fully functioning, free-thinking heads undergoes a strange surgical procedure to save the life of the children’s supervisor. Psychic powers come into play here. Apparently, the ruler of Detroit has psychic abilities, as does the supervisor, as do the children, including the kid with two heads. Now that you have soldiers, guns, and psychic abilities everywhere, the real battle begins.2021: LOST CHILDREN #1

Image courtesy of Titan Comics

Accessing the Story in 2021: LOST CHILDREN #1

Stéphanie Betbeder builds an intricate world for the reader in 2021: LOST CHILDREN #1. The character relationships created by the circumstances of this world propels the plot. The relationships also tell us about the comic’s characters.

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In the Detroit of 2021: LOST CHILDREN #1 we see the relationship between the children established immediately. We learn about why they’re in Detroit and in turn learn about the point of the story. At least, the starting point for this story becomes clear. The children emerge from the military transport, immediately taking care of one another. They notice changes in one child’s age and contact their supervisor, who they call Father. Father states that they must find and kill the leader of Detroit. This mission is the driving force of the plot. The use of the children as soldiers emerges from the separation of Detroit from the United States, and the need to reunite the two. Therefore, the world drives the plot.

Image courtesy of Titan Comics

In this same example, we learn about the children and about Father. When Father contacts them, he commands one child to take a pill. As the child takes the pill, he remarks on their obedience and says that behavior will serve them well. Through this, we learn that the Father is domineering and that the children are submissive to him. This relationship is almost one of master and servant, or soldier and commander, rather than father and child.

The Art of a Dystopian World

In 2021: LOST CHILDREN #1, Stéphanie Bervas uses detail to show the difference between the children and other people. The children have minimal detail. The people around them we see in great detail. They all have visible wrinkles in their skin, even the non-superpowered child they meet. Bervas’ use of detail proves interesting as it shows the supposed innocence of the children. We see little complexity in the linework, reflecting the lack of complexity in the children’s ideas, seen as innocence. However, they have also lost their innocence. They kill without question. At the same time, they understand very little, and have very innocent, and mislead, ideas about the world. For example, they kill soldiers, because they were lead to believe that anyone working for the leader of Detroit wants to hurt them. So, the minimal detail works to show the innocent side of the children.

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The coloring by Massimo Rocca makes use of every color possible. This wide range of color use allows for this world to become very real. For example, in the opening scene, we see muted colors used in the soldiers’ uniforms. Then, in the explosions, bright oranges fading into yellows and reds. The combination of bright and muted colors reflects the wide value range of reality. This makes readers more invested in the story. The more real it is, the more people want to read it.

Tying Things Up

2021: LOST CHILDREN #1 is an excellent depiction of dystopian madness. Stéphanie Betbeder creates an immersive world with relationships that define characters. Artist Stéphanie Bervas uses detail and lack thereof to contrast characters. Massimo Rocca’s coloring also goes to make the comic real to readers. This issue was full of excitement, and it exposed a lot of the world and characters, without feeling too explanatory. Information was not spoon fed to readers, however, the point was definitely made. Overall 2021: LOST CHILDREN #1 is an amazing issue.

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