Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine the apocalypse. What’s it like? Would you survive? Often, when we think about the end times, we envision desolate landscapes devoid of all life, and destabilized communities that are constantly at war for whatever scant resources are left.
While that’s certainly one way things might ultimately turn out, those narratives tend to skip over, or really not even consider, the possibility that if and when shit hits the fan in a big way, many people will be just fine. Perhaps not comfortable or happy, but very much alive and able to carve out new lives for themselves. Those are the kinds of stories featured in this week’s best comics and, if anything, they’re a reminder that no matter how bad things get, you’re still here fighting the good fight.
Death Or Glory
It’s estimated that there are almost 200,000 people living in the US off the grid in favor of trying to go it on their own steam. Often, the only way these people are able to get by is with the help of tight-knit communities of other like-minded people who’ve all but forsaken society in order to live freely.
In Glory Owen’s case, she was born into a community of truckers who fight tirelessly to keep the roads open and accessible so that they can crisscross the country as they please. Everything Glory knows, she learned from a man called Red, who took her in after her mother died. When Red himself falls ill, Glory sets out on a mission to secure a liver transplant that can save his life. Glory, like most people, only wants to live her life in peace, but the quickly-crumbling larger society around her makes that increasingly difficult to do.
Without social security cards or really any official documentation, Glory’s people are unable to rely on what’s left of the kinds of social safety nets that were once put in place to help keep people from falling between the cracks. Knowing that she has no real other options to pay for Red’s medical bills, Glory embarks on an illegal, cross-country mission smuggling illicit goods, something that brings her face to face with the societal evils and corruption her birth parents wanted to protect her from. Death Or Glory is definitely a high-octane speed chase of a story with plenty of shootouts, but it’s also a reflection on what it means to live as part of the invisible underclass and how expensive poverty can be. (Rick Remender, Bengal, Image Comics)
Life’s already difficult enough for the bards who make their way through fantasy worlds, either singing for coins or cheering on their party members as they adventure through the world in search of glory and riches. But imagine if, one day, all of the magic in the world suddenly disappeared—if dragons could no longer fly and if mages’ arcane spells no longer worked. Sure, the knights, rogues, and thieves of the world might be able to fend for themselves in the new, chaotic, magic-free world, but what of the bards?
For Hum, the surly hero of Boom Studios’ Coda, the end of nearly all magic necessitates a major career change. Though the world’s very much in the process of falling apart, Hum gets by scavenging and selling off whatever valuables he comes across. Hum’s good at what he does, but simply existing in the world of Coda isn’t a guarantee that a person will live very long.
Coda is a story from the earliest days of a civilization’s realization that the apocalypse has come and things are... shitty. Not shitty in the nightmare hellscape sense, but rather, Coda homes in on the kind of everyday inconveniences that you’d be forced to deal with in the end times. Everyone’s impolite and hostile to a fault as they desperately search for a way to secure what little magical power that there is to be had. Hum sees the people all around him as a massive annoyance and an even larger inconvenience, save for his trusty steed, a pentacorn named Nag, and his beloved wife Serka, who’s been captured by a clan of savage, orc-like demons.
As breathtaking and mysterious as Hum’s surroundings are, for him, it’s all just another day in the apocalypse, where all there really is to do is just keep moving and trying not to slow down long enough to think about just how screwed everyone is. (Simon Spurrier, Matías Bergara, Michael Doig, Boom! Studios)