Review – Nuclear Family #1
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artwork: Tony Shasteen
Colourist: JD Mettler
Letters: Troy Peteri
Release Date: February 2021
I love retro 1950’s stories that deal with the nuclear tensions felt by the population of the time, so getting to review Nuclear Family was great as I knew that this comic would be right up my street. Nuclear Family is a new title from Aftershock Comics, written by Stephanie Philips and illustrated by Tony Shasteen. The first issue sets up a story that promises to contain plenty of mystery and intrigue.
I really enjoyed the way that Stephanie Philips introduces reader to this world and its characters. She manages to establish a good amount of nuance and depth just through her use of subtext in the first few pages of the issue without using an abundance of obviously expositional dialogue.
Pretty much as soon as we are introduced to the book’s protagonist, Tim McClean, we can get a feel for his personality type and gain a notion for his nature just from seeing the way that he interacts with his work colleague, Dan.
He doesn’t respond well to the aggressive attitude of the customer he is dealing with and he has a real problem with Dan stretching the truth regarding their service in the Korean War. From this simple brief interaction alone, Philips is able to give us a good idea of who Tim is as a person.
Dan and Tim are a good example of two characters with shared experiences, (which I also thought were established well,) that are still very different people with very different world-views. Dan is the slick, big-mouthed salesman stereotype and Tim is the more honest, introverted of the two. I have known salesmen that fall under both categories in my own life over the years.
Although the comic is based on Philip K. Dick’s short story; Breakfast at Twilight, Nuclear Family manages to still feel fresh and original. This is something I appreciated as it could have easily felt like a rehash of a story we’ve all heard before in some side quest in a Fallout game.
Something else that I was fond of was how realistic everything was at the start of the issue. I have known people like Tim in my time and therefore was able to relate to him really easily. I think being able to allow readers to form this instant bond to the story’s protagonist is essential in making the peril and fear feel so substantial when that first bomb drops in Tim’s neighbourhood.
I also really enjoyed Tony Shasteen’s illustrations in the issue. I like his style for drawing character’s faces and expressions, this was highlighted in the scene where the bomb went off. I really felt like the artwork accentuated the emotions on display here in a big way and I really felt that the fear was palpable when the family were scrambling to get to the basement and when they prayed together.
Something else I appreciated was Shasteen’s restraint when it came to the story’s setting. He could have easily embellished a lot more and showed a bunch of stereotypical 50’s landmarks, but instead we get a tighter focus on the characters and the story going on within the retro setting. I also liked JD Mettler’s use of colour in the issue.
This first issue was great, I am on-board with everything that it set up and I am eager to see what lies ahead for Tim and his family.
Overall, I really enjoyed getting to review Nuclear Family and is a series that I will definitely be following in the future. Stephanie Philip’s writing and Tony Shasteen’s artwork really drew me into the world of the story and has left me wanting more. I think that this will certainly be a series worth keeping an eye on in the coming months.
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