“Twenty years after a nuclear war a mysterious figure walks the wasteland protecting what’s left of Boulder City, Nevada from scavengers sent out by “The King”. But in the irradiated wasteland left behind from this Unknown War, how does this man survive without any kind of shielding against radiation?”
by Zachary Whittaker
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Gary Frank
Colouring by: Brad Anderson
Lettering by: Rob Leigh
Editing by: Pat McCallum
Design by: Steve Blackwell
Las Vegas Map Illustration by: Ryan Dunlavey
Twenty years after a nuclear war a mysterious figure walks the wasteland protecting what’s left of Boulder City, Nevada from scavengers sent out by “The King”. But in the irradiated wasteland left behind from this Unknown War, how does this man survive without any kind of shielding against radiation?
I didn’t know what to expect from Geiger #1, although I’ve seen solicitations and adverts I’d somehow not really processed any information about what the series was actually about. Simply put, after reading this issue it appears that Geiger is going to be a post-apocalyptic superhero story. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as a glance at the previous work of both Geoff Johns and Gary Frank shows a very superhero heavy history. Now that’s no bad thing, I’ve read plenty of books by both creators, but there’s something here that makes me wonder, “why isn’t this happening at DC Comics?”
I thought there was going to be some mystery to the identity of “Joe Glow”, “The Man Of Mass Destruction”, “The Walking Bomb”, “The Meltdown Man”…but there just isn’t, he’s Tariq Geiger. He should be dead after being nuked in the face, but he isn’t. So then the question shifts to; how did he survive?
While that’s the initial hook for Geiger, what we see of the world surrounding Tariq is perhaps what you might expect from a post-apocalyptic story. A desolate wasteland ruled over by a despotic overlord, scavengers reaving the remnants of civilisation, and honestly there’s an air of predictability that just leaves me needing to know what the point even is.
As I’ve mentioned I’ve read plenty of Geoff Johns’ books, and I do think he is a good writer, but I’m just not sure there’s enough conviction behind this book. I feel like the best comic books are the ones where you know the creative team are putting their all into every single panel, and as far as I can tell that just isn’t the case here. I wanted more from this, but I just don’t feel like there’s much original happening, and there isn’t the attention to detail or feeling of interest from Johns that would make this the book it wants to be.
Gary Frank’s art throughout the issue has some truly standout moments, there are splash pages and landscapes that are really nicely done and work well to set the scene. It’s also undeniable that Geiger’s “Joe Glow” design is very cool. However there are also moments where I feel the artwork leaves something to be desired, maybe it’s the years of DC Comics behind Frank’s work, but there’s something behind the characters that just screams of disinterest.
It rubs me up the wrong way that Johns and Frank are credited as ‘Creators’ and ‘Storytellers’ while Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh are given their expected titles of Colourist and Letterer. There’s something about that which feels like the appropriate amount of credit isn’t being given to every member of the creative team. Especially when the credits manage to appear twice in one issue, and yet the Johns and Frank’s names manage to pop-up three times between the two. I think this is made all the more strange by the fact that the full creative team has worked together in the past.
Speaking of which…
I also feel that it’s worth noting that the creative team previously worked together on Doomsday Clock, y’know the sequel to Watchmen, and it’s evident that the influence of Watchmen does run throughout this first issue. There are stylistic choices in the art, the panelling and the writing that speak of this, there’s even an in canon comic book strip included as backmatter.
The problem with feeling something is “fine” is something I’ve discussed with Joe more than once, it’s interesting that any criticism comes off as complete hate and dismissal when that isn’t always the intention. In my opinion, Geiger #1 is fine. I don’t feel like this is a series for me, and that’s okay. I can see that there are things to like, and I know there are readers out there who will enjoy this. If you think that’s you, I very much recommend checking this out and making your own decision. There’s an interesting premise, some good writing and art and some very clear influences that might make this of immediate interest to you.