Image: Black Mask Studios

A big part of what’s made Vita Ayala’s writing in comics like Wonder Woman, Bitch Planet, and Batman Beyond so strong is the way their storytelling is formed by their deeply personal, powerful politics. In The Wilds, their new upcoming series from Black Mask Studios with illustrations by Emily Pearson, their focus shifts away from capes and onto a horrifyingly beautiful apocalypse.

Like any good apocalypse, The Wilds begins with a plague that transforms much of humanity into creatures that still resemble people in many ways, despite the fact that they’ve become something much more seemingly mindless and deadly. The few remaining survivors gather in various fortified settlements scattered throughout the land, sustained by runners who work for the Compound, a business that’s something like a cross between the postal service and the black market.

Like all runners, Daisy Walker ventures out into the wilderness that’s populated by the infected to seek out valuable goods to bring back to the Compound, and her life in the apocalypse works for her until her partner—another runner named Heather—mysteriously goes missing during a job outside. As Daisy pushes into the wilds beyond, desperate to find Heather, she begins to learn things that challenge her understanding of the larger world she’s living in.

Often, zombie-adjacent stories like these focus on white, male characters locked in some sort of struggle for power and survival, so it’s bracing to see an apocalyptic narrative that centers on a queer character who’s a woman of color. What’s more, The Wilds’ take on infected humans—known as Abominations—is a mesmerizing blend of body horror and reverence for nature.

We’ve got a couple of exclusive pages from the series to share now, and you can check The Wilds out in full when it hits stores next February.

The Wilds by GMG Editorial on Scribd