The looming threat of nuclear war wasn't just an existential nightmare for most of us in the 1980s. Every mushroom cloud has a silver lining; atomic destruction was fertile ground for the military-industrial complex, saber-rattling politicians, and doom-focused creatives of all types, who posited a destroyed world as the backdrop for fantastic adventures of survival and the triumph of the human spirit. And whatever this is!
One of the legions of independently published black and white comics that bloomed across the comic shop landscape of the post TMNT era, Aftermath stood out on the stands. It was magazine sized, rather than standard comic size. It had a slickly designed logo. And of course, it featured a mutant spitting on a gas-masked riot control guard. Perhaps this comic will turn out to be a work of lasting importance that avoided the pitfalls of B&W boom comics?
Well, it starts off by explaining itself with a gigantic wall of text, so I'm gonna say "no" to that last question. All this could have been replaced with "we had a nuclear war, okay?!"
John Saxon stars as Charlton Heston playing Yul Brynner portraying Patrick Swayze struggling to survive Panic In The Year Zero as the Robot Holocaust engulfs the Warriors Of The Wasteland and the Exterminators Of The Year 3000, in the Steel Dawn After The Fall Of New York, with the only hope for a World Gone Wild being the Equalizer 2000. On VHS now!
These mutants are almost human! It's as if they... are mutated human beings, or something.
Well, there goes our hero, stabbed three or four times by what appears to be Stoner #2 hanging out at the 7-11 circa 1978. Except that Stoner #2 then gets his neck broken by a savage kick from the guy he just shanked. Hunter must have really been paying attention to that "Abs Of Steel" video!
Yeah, you got stabbed. "Sick" is one way to describe how you must be feeling. Now, blast some muties!
I see Hunter follows the Ron Swanson method of office decor! Was he just carrying claymore mines and fire bombs in his pants pockets, or something? Where did all this stuff come from? The Defense Perimeter Fairy?
Looks like the guaranteed survivors of atomic war will be various iterations of the Three Stooges and teenage Monty Python devotees. We really WILL envy the dead!
Comic books are a wonderful career for any young person who wants to draw a psychotically angry man detonating a truckload of antipersonnel munitions into the face of a simpleton.
Remember, he didn't WANT to kill Lenny, that sweet, simple mutant. He set those fire bombs and Claymore mines up to NOT kill anybody. Our hero is NEVER at fault for ANYTHING he does EVER, this is just an unavoidable tragedy NO ONE could have prevented. Why, without this "look what you made me do" logic, we wouldn't have had that nuclear holocaust to begin with!
nothing like a brisk jog to really help those stab wounds heal
Jackson! Smith! Thomas! Get out here NOW and look at this guy's incredibly hairy forearms!
Here at Action Pose Hospital we make sure to shove our surgically-scrubbed hands into the foreground, and our the nurses' hair always blows sensually in the breeze from our always-on wind machines. Action Pose Hospital; for all your action hospital needs.
Now I know what you're asking. It's the 1980s, we're in a post-nuclear wasteland where civilization has crumbled and only the strong survive, but there's one vital ingredient missing from this whole clichéd scenario. Where are the punks?
They're in their camp, of course! Camp Punk, where the mohawked and spike-wristbanded can fish and canoe, swim and learn archery, lounge around on discarded office furniture and plot the overthrow of the last bastion of normal decency in the world. It's heartening to see the collapse of civilization has brought about a new vigor and determination on the part of punks, who previously had been mopey, disgruntled youth content to complain about high ticket prices for Minutemen shows and why Dad won't let them have the car.
This new alliance between the mutants and the punks has not escaped the attention of the authorities, in this case represented by the assistant principal of my high school
Glad to see even in the crumbling remains of a once-proud civilization, weed will be plentiful, in the form of comically gigantic, cigar-sized joints.
I know the author of this comic probably wanted the reader to focus on the betrayals and counter-betrayals being set in motion, but here in the 21st century all we can do is gape in awe at that sweet vintage Pac-Man tee shirt.
Hey, if you have to remind the reader of the song you're parodying, maybe your song parody skills aren't what they should be?
(alternate joke: Glad to see Weird Al Yankovic survived the atomic holocaust!)
Whips, clubs, the rack, savage beatings, branding, eye gouging, explaining economic strategies - these are all torture tools of the post-nuclear warlord.
Welcome to the State Of Devastation State Fair, it's like a comic-con but for people who want essential survival supplies instead of Funko Pops and $150 photos of TV actors. And ladies! If you were worried that this comic wasn't going to feature a female character who is described as "a feminist" but who does nothing but think about the hero all the time, well you're in luck! And everybody! If you were worried that our artist had contaminated his artistic purity by actually getting photo reference for what an "open van door" looks like, you're also in luck!
Oh Hunter! Not now! There's an important thing I have to tell you! The punks! They have something important planned! It's big! And important, Hunter, it's important! And this thing that I have to tell you, this important thing, Hunter, is...
Whoops. Well, you had your chance to tell Hunter that the armed punk rockers whom he already knows hate Mainstreet will be attacking Mainstreet, which is, again, a thing they're probably generally aware might happen. Now Miss Samson, tell me the name of your favorite Clint Eastwood western that isn't "The Outlaw Josey Wales!"
GEEZ I'M SORRY I ASKED
Atomic mutation can wreak amazing havoc on the genetic structure of humans - these pitiful mutants resemble nothing more than stick figures. Which is terrible for them, but great for some people, like, say, an overworked artist up against a deadline.
Here's the part in the war movie where we get to meet Joe, Freddy, Brooklyn, Sammy, and Fat Tony, all richly characterized individuals whom we'll miss terribly when they're all killed in a few minutes.
The finely honed combat techniques developed over years of specialized training all pay off as Hunter and his elite team practice their strategy of "staying in the trench" and "shooting at the enemy occasionally." Meanwhile, a once-destroyed civilization really seems to be bouncing back in terms of equipping mutant soldiers with mortars, gas rounds, and ABC warfare gear.
it looks bad for non-mutated humans as the mutants scale the main gate walls and establish interlocked fields of fifty caliber machine gun fire. Maybe stop treating them like monsters and you wouldn't be in this jam, humans
Caught bare-chested and be-mohawked out in the cold when the muties ghost you? That's gotta sting. Time for some revenge!
it's punk vs mutant in a fight to the finish, and you'll note they do a lot of posing with spears and whatnot but when the showdown happens it's all about the handguns, the comically small handguns held by weirdly tiny arms
Oh sure, at first they're all AIEEEE and KILL KILL but shove a pistol in their face and they're all "I'm a hideous freak of nature, I don't deserve to live."
Remember, he feels really bad about this. He's definitely going to make a lot of changes in his life moving forward. Sure he is.
Hideous mutants Hitler Jr, Screamo, Bighead, and Ted Nugent - not a hideous mutant, just regular old Ted Nugent - make a final assault to wipe out humanity!
But reinforcements, superior firepower and the timely assistance of Feminist Lady mean the day is saved for the genetically non-altered!
Tonight, on a very special episode of Trailer Park Boys...
What's that? A Russian task force set to attack our shoreline? Well, we'd better sleep on it. Don't want to make snap decisions. Let's table this until the morning. I mean, Russians, we can handle Russians. As long as it's just Russians we'll be fine.
And that's Aftermath! Here in the aftermath of Aftermath I can say that I kinda liked this one. Sure, it's a mishmash of B-movies and bad pulp novels and maybe some of TSR's "Gamma World" role playing game, but this comic has a rollicking, crude undergroundy energy that keeps things bouncing along. It's not trying to establish its own superhero universe, it's not shoving its Batman fan fiction at us, Aftermath just wants to blast some muties and threaten us with killer clowns, and I can't help but respect that.
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