When you get to my age, it can be very easy to be quite jaded and cynical about, well, just about everything. Much of what you read and consume is filtered through decades of pop culture references, callbacks and influences – it’s rare to come across something that feels truly original and unique.

Which is perhaps one reason why I found Orphans of the Impact Winter – a new indie comic book from NCIS: Los Angeles writer Lee A. Carlisle, artist Ross Carlisle and colourist Marina Goncalves – so refreshing. It feels unlike anything I’ve read before – though its retro-futurism does have roots in the sci-fi of the early to mid-20th century – and that’s incredibly rare these days.

The story of Chuck and his loyal canine companion, Addie, Orphans of the Impact Winter sees the boy and his dog trying to survive in a harsh world that is under threat by the moon falling out of the sky. Throughout the lonely, desperate struggle for survival, Chuck imagines himself as an intrepid space explorer in a bubblegum sci-fi universe. The world he conjures up is rendered in beautiful colours and filled with gorgeous retro-futuristic designs; far removed from the bleak, muted, harsh reality that he would otherwise have to deal with.

It’s a genuinely affecting opening issue; though ultimately bleak and heartbreaking, it’s a fascinating examination of the ways that humans are able to keep going and keep surviving, despite dealing with unbelievable trauma.

The contrast between the different worlds – real and imaginary – is stunningly conveyed from a visual standpoint, with Ross Carlisle’s art being perfectly complemented by the distinctive colour palettes that Marina Goncalves uses.

The official website cleverly allows visitors to switch between the contrasting styles and realities too; it’s well worth checking out.

As for the comic itself though, what we have here is a deeply moving and genuinely compelling first issue; I honestly can’t wait to see how the story continues as new issues are released. Interestingly, the first issue is being released for free via Comixology, with the next four issues to follow afterwards.

The first five issues will be collected in a softcover volume that’ll be funded via Kickstarter. The crowdfunding campaign is due to launch on October 15th, with the book set to be released in Q2 2023.

You can sign up for news and updates via the official website too, so that you’ll be notified of the Kickstarter launch in advance of the campaign going live.

I can highly recommend checking out Orphans of the Impact Winter #1; it’s a great start to the series and I’m looking forward to seeing the bleak, beautifully told story continue.

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