The fourth and final issue of “Debris” brings the mini-epic to a satisfying conclusion, wrapping up the story that Kurtis J. Wiebe and Riley Rossmo set out to tell in issue one. It was a short mini-series, but delivered everything it promised and did so beautifully.
Captured, Maya and Kessel arrive at a new camp, which she immediately identifies as the mythical city of Athabasca that she’s been searching for from the start. The leader of the community isn’t so fast to welcome newbies in, and certainly doesn’t want to deal with descendants of a people who once did ancestors of his people wrong. Old grudges die hard, but Maya believes in her quest and doesn’t give up. When the opportunity presents itself, she leaps into action and fulfills her destiny.
“Debris” is a perfect fantasy short-story. It’s like something you’d see in “Heavy Metal” but with more fully clothed females. It mixes post-apocalyptic tropes with steampunk, man versus environment, man versus woman, and lots of the usual Joseph Campbell mythology. Wiebe’s script is focused, while allowing room for Rossmo to spread his wings a little bit and deliver stunning visuals. Nit-picked might call it “decompressed,” but it feels more like a story that gives itself room to move, while giving the artist a chance to shine. Wiebe dishes out just enough of the story at a time to keep things moving, never stopping to bring out all the backstory beyond what it necessary. It’s a tight rope he walks well.
This issue looks a little different from the first three, as colorist Owen Gieni gets bumped up from mere “colorist” to “finished art/colors.” The line work disappears a little more as the colors step in to tell the story. Gieni’s scratchy coloring story paints the pictures without relying on black ink outlines to delineate everything. The end result is softer, but equally satisfying. The color palette retains its almost pastel scheme, setting it apart from most such stories that would rely on darker and more steely colors. Blood reds, light blues, and even dark purples give this book a unique look. That softer scheme works doubly well with the borderless panels and the white space in the gutters.
“Debris” does not feel like a story created to set up a new franchise or to create marketable intellectual property. It is, instead, a concise short story with a lead female warrior character you can root for. It’s beautifully illustrated with moments that will make you stop to stare at the images. Good story combined with strong art: what more do you want from your comics?