Pullbox Reviews: Oscar Martin’s Solo – Survivors of Chaos

Mad Max meets Mighty Mouse! Fievel meets Fallout! From Warner Bros Lifetime Achievement Award-winning writer-artist Oscar Martin (Tom & Jerry, The Lion King). On an Earth ravaged by nuclear war, mutant animals have repopulated the world. When Solo’s family faces starvation, the young rat leaves to find his destiny in the irradiated wastes. Solo will need to be faster, smarter and more brutal than the mutant monsters of this chaotic world!

There are people out there who really have nothing to prove. Their body of work speaks for itself, and they’ve received the awards and industry adulations to prove it. Having worked for Disney and Warner Brothers on titles like The Lion King and Tom & Jerry, there’s a logical progression one could expect from an writer/artist like Oscar Martin. So are you thinking what I’m thinking? How about an introspective, often violent story of personal growth, morals, & standards set against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic hell?

Yeah, I didn’t really see that coming either.

First of all, lemme set this straight right away… Despite any thoughts you might be having regarding the Disney-esque look of this book and its character designs, this is NOT a children’s comic. What we have here is Mad Max/Conan the Barbarian/Rescuers Down Under (see, that’s a full circle cuz Mad Max was filmed in Australia…) hybrid.

Solo- the character, not the book- is an anthropomorphized rat, who lives in a world populated by people and beings of all shapes and sizes. There are dog people, cat people, lizard people, and even people people, living in a barren environment and scraping for survival, inch by painful inch. Solo leaves home for the first time, to forge his own life, less than certain about his chances and feeling more than a little abandoned. As it turns out, he should have had a little more faith in his father, who taught Solo everything he needs to know in order to survive and thrive.

Through the running inner monologue, told from Solo’s point of view, Oscar Martin is telling a much more complicated story than I was expecting to get when I opened the book. I saw the toonish designs and figured it was going to be a light-hearted romp, maybe more Dark Cauldron than Bambi, but still fairly light reading. Holy crap, was I wrong!

In the beginning, Solo is all about the action. Martin has a gift for scripting action-packed panels, choreographing fight scenes that could be used as storyboards for any Hollywood blockbuster. The violence is brutal, again against all preconceived notions of what the book’s look might instill. Limbs are lopped, heads roll, and Solo stands tall as his enemies lie scattered on the ground around him.

As it moves along, Solo is all about overcoming the obstacles in life, whether they’re set in our path from outside forces, or created in our own minds. Solo- the character, not the book- doesn’t take pleasure in the violence he inflicts. If it were up to him, he’d live a life of peace and quiet, and never have to take up the gun or the sword against another being. Unfortunately, in order to survive he’s forced to meet certain challenges. At one point, in what I thought was a pretty solid nod to Conan, he’s forced into slavery as a gladiator, for the entertainment of the mob.

In the end, Solo– the book, not the character- is about growth, about an individual being forced to acknowledge that every step taken in life is an act of progression. Martin gives Solo a voice dripping in angst-ridden melancholy, almost to the point of parody at times, but always moving forward with a point to be made. Our parents teach us everything they can, but there are lessons that can’t be learned in safety. We have to get out, discover for ourselves how to get over, under, around, or through the hurdles that threaten to hold us in place.

This was a book that took me totally off guard. I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but I judged this one by its cover (or at least by a quick look at the interior art), and I gave it a go purely out of curiosity. I’m happy that I did cuz it was awesome. Lesson learned…

Final Score: A shocked & surprised 10+

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