Pullbox Reviews Orphans of the Impact Winter- A high stakes story of survival, from the perspective of a boy & his dog

Orphans of the Impact Winter tells the tale of an imaginative young boy named Chuck and his loyal dog Addie as they struggle to survive in a world where the moon is falling out of the sky. Fragments from the shattered moon routinely shower down and have caused an impact winter on Earth. Plants and animals are dying off, food is growing scarce, and society is crumbling.

Every now and then, someone sends me a comic to look at and I have no idea what it is that I’m getting myself into. This was one of those books. The cover shows us some light, colorful artwork, while the story promises us plenty of peril as the moon looms overhead, ever closer. Once we start reading it, Orphans of the Impact Winter shows two very different stories, running along side by side.

Writer Lee Carlisle is laying down some serious groundwork, building up the parallel lives of Chuck & faithful pooch Addie. On the one hand, the world is a very dingy place where every day is spent scraping for whatever can be found to get by. On the flipside, in the world that’s growing inside Chuck’s fertile imagination, things are more like a Sunday paper comic strip than a struggle to survive. Lee sets the reader up for some great reveals, alternating the different aspects of the story without giving away too much, too fast. Readers still get to play along with the dynamic duo of Chuck & Addie, strolling along in their alter-egos as intrepid space explorers, while piecing together the very different reality as they go.

Artist Ross Carlisle and colorist Marina Goncalves handle these changeups with skill, keeping both worlds distinct in both style and tone. Ross plays with the contrasts between what Chuck & Addie are dealing with on both sides of the imaginary line. The reality is that the world is a grim place, the air full of grit and the landscape a blasted ruin. Food is getting scarce and scavengers in all shapes & sizes prowl for whatever they can take. Chuck’s manufactured world, one into which he can retreat and avoid what’s really out there, has everything in common with the classic Calvin & Hobbes comics. Marina keeps that going, shifting from a palette that’s all shades of gray to one of bright pastels. Individually, I’m pretty sure that they’d each be able to pull off the effect, but together their talents push the book right over the top.

Orphans of the Impact Winter is a comic that works on a couple of levels. Readers can follow along with the adventures of Chuck & Addie, scrappy adventurers, and try to ignore the underlying truths being seeded throughout the first issue. For readers interested in a little more meat to chew on this book has more than gristle going for it. As I read the first issue, there is some foreshadowing, hints dropped here and there to pave the way. But I was not ready for the reveal. Don’t think of this as bordering on spoilers but rather a fair warning. There is a gut punch ahead and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that they’re going to be stacked up by the time we’re through.

Live on Kickstarter right now and chugging along toward its funding goal, this is a book I feel pretty good about as I’m both recommending it, and I’m backing it. Take that for what it’s worth, whether you wanna go with “one born every minute” or “putting my money where my mouth is”. Orphans left its own impact on me, and the first issue has been in my head. If you don’t want to fully commit just yet, keep in mind that the first installment is available to read for free online.

Final Score: 12/13

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