While the star-crossed lovers premise sounds familiar (SAGA anyone?), THE NEW WORLD #1 is surprisingly excellent. The story is instantly captivating from the moment readers are introduced to its protagonists. Once the prologue ends, the story kicks into high gear and doesn't let go until the very last page. This is easily one of Image Comics' best mini-series. If you're looking for a new twist on ROMEO AND JULIET, you won't want to miss this sci-fi romance thriller.
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In the year 2037, a series of nuclear bombs blows up in five major U.S. cities. As a result, this leads to a second Civil War that divides the country into four separate territories: The New California, No Man’s Land, the United States of East America, and the Union of Federations. This is the future that THE NEW WORLD #1 by Ales Kot and Tradd Moore paint. The best way to describe the series is PRINCE OF CATS meets SAGA, as the worlds of two unlikely lovers collide. Hackers, a police state, and romance are some of the things that await in THE NEW WORLD #1.

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Cops and Hackers

Courtesy of Image Comics

In THE NEW WORLD #1, we quickly meet our two protagonists: police officer/reality show star Stella Maris and hacktivist Kirby Shakaku Miyazaki. Notably, Stella apprehends a suspect in the New L.A. Echo Park district. Then, the audience votes on whether the suspect deserves to live or die in real time. The audience votes to kill the suspect. But Stella chooses to spare him out of principle, much to the dismay of her tech handler, Jim.

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Meanwhile, Kirby infiltrates The Guardians’ headquarters as Loki L’har, their new techie. Soon we learn about Kirby’s many interests including fighting the State and guerrilla sabotage. Also, it’s here that Kirby gets his first look at Stella in her police gear. But Kirby hacks into The Guardians’ building and transmits a message that says, “SMASH THE POLICE STATE.” In doing so, Kirby becomes the LAPD’s most wanted criminal. It needs to be noted that the number one cop, Logan Maximus, has no mercy towards criminals.

Part of what makes THE NEW WORLD #1’s plot engaging is that Kot spends an equal amount of time in showing both characters’ lives. For instance, we meet President Herod, Stella’s antagonistic grandfather who wants her to be ruthless rather than a pacifist. On the other hand, Kirby’s father is a funny, drunk war veteran who wants Kirby to get into a relationship. Once Kirby and Stella meet, it’s quite a treat to the end of the issue because it ends strong.

When Kirby Met Stella

THE NEW WORLD #1 features some excellent characterzation. Kot makes juxtaposing Kirby and Stella’s subplots a priority throughout the story. Indeed, Kot makes it clear that Kirby and Stella lead completely different lives. Outside of her job, Stella lives alone in a messy, high-rise apartment with her cat and her house-pal (think Siri), Val. In addition, Stella leads a lavish, care-free lifestyle because she eats takeout food and likes to drink booze. However, she is haunted by nightmares of losing her parents as a child.

Courtesy of Image Comics

Similarly, Kirby is also a loner who’s a neat freak and a straight-edge vegan. Kirby lives in a modest, West Hollywood house with his aforementioned father who loves watching Guardians, the COPS style show that Stella is on. Because Kirby is of Japanese descent, there’s images of nature and Buddha present throughout the house. Also, Kirby is big into robotics because quite a few robots also live in the house. Both Kirby and Stella love to listen to music as they go home. Then, the call of partying at a rave brings both characters together in a steamy, romantic scene.

New California’s MAD MAX-Style World

Tradd Moore handles the art in THE NEW WORLD #1 and it’s quite excellent. While the characters look stylized, they’re incredibly expressive with attention paid to the eyes. From the outset, Stella looks like a character out of a JUDGE DREDD comic with her futuristic, samurai-inspired armor and mask that hides her face. In contrast, Kirby has a punk rebellious look with his American flag vest, eye patch, and cargo pants with so many pouches that they would make Rob Liefeld smile. Strikingly, Moore’s New California brims with many details such as a robot that gives Kirby a mutual thumbs up later in the story. Overall, thanks to big panels, Moore makes sure that readers remember this series.

Courtesy of Image Comics

Heather Moore and Clayton Cowles also do excellent work with colors and letters respectively. Notably, Moore makes the world feel vibrant and energetic with bright colors that stand out against the sterile grays of The Guardians headquarters’ corridors. Her colors hit a high note in the silent panels and one-page spreads where Kirby and Stella lock eyes at the night club. In the night club, the colors are a gamut of trippy neon colors that contrast the dark colors of the many dancers. Cowles also helps sell the scene with the giant “oontz, oontz” techno sounds that blare from the venue. This is easily some of the best artwork from an Image Comics series.

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Closing Comments on THE NEW WORLD #1

THE NEW WORLD #1 does some novel things to shake up the star-crossed lovers formula. Namely, there’s the JUDGE DREDD-like world of New California which feels lived in. Plus, Kot writes some excellent, snappy dialogue that knows when to be funny and serious. Thanks to great pacing and stunning art and colors, readers will want to know what happens next. Does the series nail down the ROMEO AND JULIET meets MAD MAX premise? Absolutely and it’s a must-read.

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