Comic Review: Memories from the Civil War by Marazano and Ponzio
Memories from the Civil War V1
Richard Marazano - script and storyboard, Jean-Michel Ponzio artwork and colours
You have to wait until a good two thirds through the first volume of Memories from the Civil War to even begin to understand or pin down the situation of the world we are in. It helps that the opening sections aren't short on action, character development and a certain amount of intrigue as to what has happened to the world and where the rest of the story might be going. The cover and interior artwork is good too, which can help matters, but it could take a similar length of time to get accustomed to it as well.
What you can grasp however is that civilisation on Earth has been reduced to living in Enclaves, protected cities managed by corporations that only admit a select few. Outside these "islands of civilisation" the external zones are dangerous, populated by proles. Three generations have lived this way, and it seems that in more recent times, several enclaves have 'fallen', Tokyo most painfully fresh in the memory of everyone. One way of getting into an Enclave is through 10 years of military service working in the SI units who scour the ruins of old cities looking for externals who can be used for "production". What exactly this entails hasn't yet been made clear, but it sounds pretty ominous..
In the first volume of Memories from the Civil War, Richard Marazano's script quickly introduces the reader to one SI Unit consisting of Virgil, Cicero, Nadia and rookie recruit Ulrich. Virgil has been having strange vivid dreams of a huge battle that intensifies after an incident at a nightclub. Letting off some steam after one SI patrol, Virgil is zapped by an officer during an incident at the Blue Parrot and loses six months in a coma. When he comes around however he is convinced that something unusual was going down at the Blue Parrot. He doesn't understand what, but he's determined to find out.
Running to 60 pages, the first volume of Memories from the Civil War moves along pretty quickly and gets a lot in, but inevitably leaves you still not quite grasping where it might be going or whether it's worth going there with it. Whether there's enough there to draw you in will depend to some extent on how you take to the artwork. Artist Jean-Michel Ponzio makes use of a lot of photo references and models for the characters, as well as what looks like some digital effects and enhancement, which if you're tolerant makes it look cinematic but if you're sceptical it looks like a photo comic where everyone adopts fixed-looking poses.
It's not everyone's taste but it does look fantastic. The layouts are terrific and, despite the detail, the backgrounds are never cluttered, all of it serving to create atmosphere and a sense of place, perfectly balanced to foreground the figures. Initially I remained on the sceptical side of the photo referencing model poses, but came around quickly for how well it suited the action, how it manages to establish strong recognisable and distinct characters, and how well it manages to tell the story visually.
The first volume of Memories from the Civil War definitely has enough material then and plenty of intrigue to wonder where this could be going. Certainly all the indications are that it's heading towards an apocalyptic civil war and Virgil's association with the Blue Parrot is going to be key to that somehow. On the evidence so far however, that could be quite spectacular.