Devolution by Rick Remender

Sadly, there was very little that I found to like in Devolution. We have a well worn dystopian path (Mad Max, etc.) and a really bonkers premise (remove religion from people’s brains and wars will end that instead mutates them into cavemen). Characters were over-the-top cliches and endless violence being the lazy writer’s excuse for adventure. The art felt very Judge Dredd 1990s with huge square chins and the Frank Frazetta-inspired cover didn’t reflect the contents. Honestly, I was bored within the first 10 pages by art and story.

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Story: the entire world has devolved thanks to scientists trying to create a vaccine to faith/religion. What started as an experiment in a few soldier instead spread across the world, affecting all living organisms and devolving them back to prehistoric times. Raja’s father had a hand in the original vaccine and believes she can get to a place that might have the cure. But first she has to get through the vicious flora, fauna, and warlords.

First and foremost, the premise is just (let’s be honest here) stupid. I’m not even scientifically inclined and can recognize that this makes no sense whatsoever that everything ‘devolves’ back to random times in prehistory. Why not just evolve back to single celled organisms since that is the basis of all life (but then, there’s not a story there, now is there?). And when in history were there giant mosquitos and spiders?? The lack of imagination here is just silly.

Another problem was that the author contradicted himself quite often. E.g., describing a woman as smelly and dirty from not daring to bathe/shower – but drawing her in clean, undamaged, neat clothing despite crouching and rolling in dirt. If someone doesn’t clean themselves ever, how are they perfectly neat? It’s things like that that were so distracting and made the story hard to take seriously.

As for the surviving humans who didn’t devolve, of course they are evil nazis (literally – with swastikas and confederate/nazi flags flying around) enslaving women and torturing the weaker. I found myself wanting to skip entire sections of pointless violence (ok, the point was to OVERTELL that the bad guys are eeeevil). It was hard not to roll my eyes at some parts.

The story itself doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s pretty much just one survival moment after another. People die horribly to weird creatures or other humans and most of the survivors encountered really aren’t worth saving. There’s some subplot of a moon colony and someone gets decontaminated – I guess that will go somewhere in the future.

Finally, I found it weird that a Los Angeles writer drew Las Vegas casinos in the wrong places. Somehow Caesar’s moved next to MGM Grand after the world devolved. Hokay. Reviewed from advanced reader’s copy provided by the publisher.

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