Travel Documents 06: Kamikaze

Kamikaze

Alan Tupper, Carrie Tupper, Havana Nguyen 
Genre: Post-apocolyptic SF, dystopian, comic

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The Dust Cover Copy

Two centuries after a global ecological disaster, the worlds of a mysterious covert operation and a young courier collide when a critical mission is blown. Markesha Nin only wants one thing: to find a better life for herself and her father. Hell bent on escaping the only home she’s ever known for a better place, she takes a risky job that blows up in her face. Caught in a deadly trap with nowhere to turn, her only chance at survival could ensnare her in a dangerous game she may never escape. Kamikaze is a sci-fi comic series that explores what happens when the world’s first superhero shows up two hundred years after the end of the world.

The Deets

The Scene

Worldbuilding

The premise of Kamikaze is one we’ve all got lurking in the back of our heads these days. There’s very little arable crop land left, and what there is warring corporations guard jealously. Lower down the food chain, rival gangs vie for the ‘taxes’ of the working joes. Humanity has reverted to a state of wondering where its next meal is coming from, protecting clan turf and trying to survive. It’s not a good place.

But there are good people in it. And there are things worth fighting for.

This comic is masterful in building an immersive world. Without exposition or fuss, you’re dropped into a world you instinctively understand. The elite are in their ivory towers eating from their apple trees. The poor breathe dust and dodge gangs to survive. You can practically smell the dirt in the street and feel the hunger in your belly. You can feel the dust scratching in your throat.

The Crowd

Characterization

Now this, this is where the story really shines.

Every one of these characters is fascinating. Every one has a story to tell. And every one of them will make you grin at some point.

This work uses its medium to the best advantage, creating character in body language as well as character design. Sidelong glances, head tilts, slopes of shoulders and raised brows shoulder a lot of the work in introducing us to reserved Orson, fiery Audrey, resolutely hopeful Toshi and his daughter, our protaganist. Markesha Nin is fast, tough and clever. She’s yearning for a better life, ready to fight for it, and done with the world’s bullshit. She’s also a lot younger than she’d like you to believe, and every once in a while the creators show us her vulnerabilities.

Put simply, this world showcases some of the most authentic characters I’ve ever read. These are real people making real, nasty decisions. They get hurt. Then they get back up.

The Moves

Plot

The story starts with a high class theft, a death, a strange technology and a threat. It doesn’t slow down from there. Perfectly balanced between intrigue, empathy and action, Kamikaze’s plot is riveting. I won’t give anything away, but assume it needs reading. Soon.

The Lingo

Writing style

Snappy and sly, clever and tight, it’s exactly what you want from comic writing. The site describes Kamikaze as ‘an animated sci fi drama for grownups’ and that’s a good synopsis, because this is for adults. Not in the usual sense of the term either. This is for audiences who expect subtlety, deft use of emotional portrayal, and something more than one more Schwarzenegger knockoff. Everything you learn about this world is contextual, and that, to me, is one of the strongest points. You learn as much by what’s not said as by what’s said, and that takes some skill.

The Vibe

Overall Rating

Go get a copy. Read. Repeat.