• Spread Volume One: No Hope

    Published by: Image Comics
    Released on: Apr. 15, 2015
    Writer: Justin Jordan
    Artist: Kyle Strahm
    Cover artist: Kyle Strahm
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    The Spread is an Earth-annihilating entity that’s put the way of the world into utter turmoil and leaving a dwindling population hopeless. One man who is immune catching the disease of the Spread, spends his time as a scavenger, and goes by the name No. No might be immune from being infected, but he’s flesh and blood and just as vulnerable to what The Spread produces as any other human. He happens upon a survivor of an accident, one who gives him an infant to protect before she dies, telling him the baby is hope. He soon finds out what she means by that, as the infant’s tears kills the Spread; not just kills it, disintegrates it.

    Just what is the Spread? It’s a a gooey, tentacle-ridden, gigantic mass of red gore that morphs itself into monstrous forms that can detach from the main body and each has a specific purpose, such as Flyers and Runners (their purposes should be obvious). These festering tumor-things are loaded with teeth, as is the main mass, so as one can imagine they are nasty. With what seems humanity’s only hope in his arms, the importance of No’s role in life has gone up a million notches. And his being immune to the disease caused by the disgusting and vile Spread is why he is the man to get little baby Hope to safety and begin the salvation of the human race.

    No isn’t the only person out there immune to the Spread, and one such person is a fellow named Ravello. Ravello is the leader of a group of Road Warrior-type nasties and quite full of himself, unblemished by the poverty and harsh living conditions the human race now faces (at least in the quarantine zone). And he knows what Hope is and wants No dead so he can have her. This is something he is very serious about. Ravello isn’t the only person No needs to worry about, as there is a preacher man following them: a diseased preacher with the power of control over the Spread, at least to some extent. He too wants that baby, but he wants to murder the baby in the name of God.

    And then there’s Molly. Molly has been raped and abused by Ravello to the point of pure insanity, and she believes Hope to be her own baby. She can feed Hope as she’s still lactating from the baby she must have recently had (and lost) so No takes her along. As to where they’re ultimately going, No perhaps doesn’t know, but there is a place he needs to stop first to sell some salvage he’s picked up and get supplies. That’s where they meet Fat Jack, and it’s also where the shit, or rather the Spread, hits the fan. The ransack community Fat Jack runs becomes the first battleground in the story and it could well be the last.

    Borrowing pieces from a number of cult movies like The Thing, The Blob, Shogun Assassin, and The Road Warrior (for exampls), the Spread at first seems like movie nerd wet dream material. It’s pretty obvious that Justin Jordan is one of those nerds (says the black colored pot), but it quickly feels more like its own tale and less like a conglomerate and it is pretty intense. That intensity is brought to life by Kyle Strahm’s high energy artwork and his evil monstrosities. He draws the Spread’s by-products and all its flailing parts covered with jagged-toothed mouths and dripping with gore, kind of like the monster in Deadly Spawn only worse and a LOT bigger. It seems to be a constantly morphing creature which surely gives him the opportunity to do pretty much anything with it and that’s got to be fun to draw. The colorist plays a big part in the success of the look of the pages too, so a slap on the back to Filipe Sobreiro for his part. He gives the book a dreary and muted look, while keeping the blood nice and vividly red.

    Justin Jordan skips right over any “how did the Spread happen?” nonsense and throws the reader right into the thick of things and for that we thank him. Not needed are two or three issues of origin or back story, at least not yet, and without that sort of exposition to get in the way the story pretty much starts at 110 mph from the get-go and doesn’t let up much for the entire book. He fleshes out two really interesting characters with No and Fat Jack, and has done a great job in making Molly so fucking crazy you can’t help but want to see her succeed in protecting that baby. The stuff she does…

    This collection of the six-issue run contains each of the standard covers as a chapter stop, and then houses a gallery after the story with a number of variant covers (including a No action figure). There are also a few “character concept” pages with Strahm sketches to sift through if you dig extra material. But the extras don’t matter; the story itself is all you need. It’s bloody, violent, disgusting, and glorious.