Review: Broken World #1
July 3rd, 2015 | by Nicholas Bennett
With the release of Boom Studios! Broken World #2 this week, ComiConverse is looking back on the recently published first issue in the series.
Broken World #1 begins at the end. Literally. THE END. As in the end of civilization as we know it.
Only the lucky ones with a clean record are given a ticket to salvation. With only days remaining until a meteor strike, Elena Marlowe is not one of those chosen people to take a trip Anne Sexton once referred to as “Riding the Elevator Into the Sky.” Broken World works as both literal telling of the end of Earth as a planet and as an allegorical story for the biblical end times. If religious allegories are something that interest you, Broken World is full of juicy bits of allusion. In both cases, it appears our lead character and sinner Elena Marlowe must stay behind to atone for what she’s done. There isn’t any room for her on the “arks” (name given to the ships keeping survivors alive in space) that have saved seventy-five percent of the world.
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Author Frank K. Barbiere leaves us guessing about Elena’s past so we’re forced to speculate. Written by Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan play The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus could provide us some hint as to Elena’s mysterious background. Based off of the German epic Faust, it tells the story of a man who makes a deal with the devil. This allows him to experience all forms of Earthly pleasure. It’s possible that Elena has made the same type of deal in Broken World. When it is time for her to pay the debt, however, Elena has second thoughts. With a new family she has something to live for. Like anyone with means, she attempts to purchase what historians refer to as “indulgences.” During the Middle Ages, these were payments to the Catholic Church that would, in essence, guarantee one a place in Heaven if death or the end times were to come. With her checkered past, Elena is forced to have one forged for her. If she cannot change her past, she will have to rewrite it.
There’s an unsettling level of tension to those who remain on Earth who have a ticket on the elevator. That tension is cut by the assurance of Elena’s husband that “everything with be OK.” That is, unless you’re one of those who has to stay behind. This is in direct contrast with the fanatics calling for the world to repent for their sins. The Children of the Revelation are one fatalistic group that even hands out suicide kits. For those familiar with sci-fi drama The Leftovers on HBO, The Children of the Revelation are the Guilty Remnant of Broken World. Their role, and of those remain behind, raises significant questions.
Like any good philosophical conundrum, the fate of mankind is debated by the few remaining students that show up to Professor Marlowe’s classroom. When one student provides his understanding of The Children of the Revelation, another shouts “Who the hell are you to comment on how people deal with this nightmare?” This is where Broken World shines. Rather than writing off people as a cult, Barbiere provides some an alternate point of view. With time, we’ll hopefully get a better understanding of their intentions.
Since we’re even mentioning time in an apocalyptic scenario it’s safe to say that the world is given a reprieve. This makes sense since Broken World isn’t a disaster epic. It’s the story of what happens in the aftermath. While that meteor never comes, perhaps the flood that caused Noah to build the “arks” is still on the way. It will judge those who abandoned the rest of humanity…Will Elena find the salvation on Earth that she was denied in space?
Pick up a copy of this issue and get caught up with this enthralling new series.
Film: Elysium Starring Matt Damon
Poem: Riding The Elevator Into the Sky by Anne Sexton
Book: Faust by Goethe
TV Show: The Leftovers
Nick Bennett is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TheTVBuddy