This one is a bit of a tough read, but not because it’s poorly executed; it’s just aggressively obtuse, and surprisingly dense. Electric Warriors #1 explores a vastly overlooked and underdeveloped time period in DC Comics which falls between the apocalyptic Great Disaster from Jack Kirby’s Kamandi and the 30th Century utopia from which the Legion of Super-Heroes hail. However, one does not have to be well-versed with either of the eras of DC's future Electric Warriors is sandwiched between in order to appreciate the book. There are some cool Easter eggs and some on-the-nose references DC fans will certainly pick up on, but there is no required reading prior to opening up this issue.
With that being said, Electric Warriors is so far removed from the main DC Comics Universe in terms of when it takes place and the characters it involves, it feels completely alien (and we’re talking about the Grant Morrison throwing you into the deep end of the Universe sort of alien). This, of course is by design. Writer Steve Orlando (Wonder Woman, The Unexpected) and artist Travel Foreman (Animal Man, Daughters of the Dragon), are deep in uncharted waters, and what they’ve crafted is a strange world filled with even stranger characters.
The pacing of Electric Warrior #1 (the first issue of a six part miniseries) moves at a breakneck pace. The story is broken up into chapters, some of which are only a page or two, and introduces different facets of a vibrant world. While some things are spelled out rather bluntly in massive exposition dumps (which almost take you out of the comic), most of the world-building is done through casual dialogue and contextual clues.
We begin on Earth in the year 2735, where humans are the downtrodden species, ranked under various anthropomorphic animal tribes. From there, things get really weird. We see a group of humanoid cephalopods, power-imbuing artifacts, brotherly strife, and even Superman’s cape, which is seen almost as a holy relic. In short, the comic is all over the place, and while we did catch ourselves flipping a couple pages back to make sure we didn’t miss anything, Electric Warriors is far from boring. Again, it’s just aggressively weird.
Orlando’s writing is mostly great. Aside from the aforementioned exposition dumps sprinkled throughout the issue, the dialogue is crisp and pulls a play from the 2000 A.D. handbook in employing interesting slang to make the way characters speak feel foreign. While the breakneck pacing might put some readers off and make them feel like they’re walking into something mid-story, there really isn’t a dull moment. No panel feels superfluous. We do wish that a few of the plot lines had a bit more time to blossom within the issue, but Orlando and Foreman were allotted just so many pages (this should have been a double-sized issue, by the way).
Travel Foreman is also doing great work, here. His alien and costume designs are very Kirby-esque at times in the best sort of way. The sharp angles and embrocated armor gives the characters a look that lands somewhere between The New Gods and X-O Manowar. The only real drawback of the art is the inconsistent coloring. Often, the highlighted portions of certain pages are meant to give things an otherworldly feel, and for the most part, it works. However, some of the more grounded moments which employ a similar method often look mushy and haphazardly executed.
Quibbles aside, Electric Warriors #1 might just be the start of something strangely unique and fascinating. We have no idea what direction this miniseries is going to go, but we’re along for the ride. DC Comics has always done a pretty solid job of telling tales in the far-flung future, and this seems like it’ll be no different. Orlando and Foreman are definitely on the same wave-length, and the finished product reflects that fact.