By Bill Molina
By Bill Molina
North Korea has wiped out southern California with nuclear weapons.
You are among the few survivors that escaped the radiation and destruction and fled into the wilderness.
How long would you expect to survive?
Would your ability to make fast food or hand back change add to your chances of survival?
Would being the best gamer in the state or the top poet at your school increase your odds at foraging for food or hunting?
In Peter Bagge’s graphic novel titled “Apocalypse Nerd,” we follow the life of a software engineer named Perry.
While going on a camping trip with his best friend Gordo in the North Cascade Mountains near Seattle, they find out that the city has been utterly destroyed by foreign powers.
The next thing to be demolished is the humanity of the remaining survivors.
After nearly getting killed by a convenience store owner who is attempting to prevent any more people from robbing her, including Gordo and Perry, they escape to the cabin where they had planned on staying to begin their adventure.
Perry’s panic attacks persist throughout the entire book, always shouting about what they will eat next, where they will stay, or if they can trust anyone else they may run into.
His opposite, Gordo, always keeps a calm head and steady hand, always being the first to suggest taking what is available by force if need be to survive.
By the start of the second chapter, they hardly resemble their former selves, now covered in beards and tattered clothes, you can see the effects of cabin fever taking place.
As murderous threats begin to fly, trust between the two begins to wear thin, but what better way to reconnect than to fend off the owners of the cabin they reside in.
After shooting owner in the head in front of his wife and kids, Perry notices that he has sores, missing teeth, burns, and scars.
Assuming that it is the affects of the fallout in Seattle, they are again reminded of the grim situation that they are in.
After using up all of their supplies, they venture out deeper into the wild, hoping to find other sources of food or places to stay.
Near the end of the book, you may not notice how callous and remorseless Perry becomes, all in the name of self-preservation, and you can hardly blame him as he tries as hard as he can to hold on to his morality during all of this.
As the story progresses you can see the moral decisions people would be forced to make in those situations.
For example, if you came across a well fortified house, bodies strewn about the outside, tons of food, clothes, weaponry, and more inside.
You’re on the brink of starving to death, yet somehow you’ve managed to find the family inside asleep and defenseless, whilst you have a few bullets remaining in your pistol.
Would you murder them in their sleep?
Wake them to ask for help and risk them shooting you?
If you did take the place or manage to cooperate with them, what would you do when others showed up asking for help or trying to take it?
These kinds of choices are thrust upon our heroes at an alarming race, with escalating results.
With an art style best described as a modern adaptation of Robert Crumb’s cartoons, the simplicity lends to how basic and primal everyone tends to be by the end of the tale.
The simplistic character design is offset nicely by the highly over exaggerated expressions on everyone’s panic ridden faces.
The number of smiles in this book could be counted on one hand, given the impending doom atmosphere.
The story comes to an abrupt end after a very intense sequence.
In its defense, I felt that after rereading the story it felt right, since most of the other characters came to a very abrupt end also.
I preferred to see Perry’s story end where it did, rather than see the horrifyingly brutal and grotesque manner it would end in a real life scenario.
A great read, this could be one of the books you take with you when society gets wiped out by nuclear war.
It might give you a glimpse into what you may look forward to.
If the radiated mutants don’t get you first that is.