Savage Squad 6 #1 – Comic Review

Savage Squad 6 is the latest comic release from Dark Horse that takes readers to a dark future following a new world war. Set in the year 2037, the world is recovering from World War Three, which has ground society to a halt. A brutal army known as The Scourge rules what’s left of the world, and hunts down the small pockets of civilisation left behind. Every man of fighting age found by The Scourge has been killed, leaving what remains as little threat – or so The Scourge believes.

The Savage Squad are a group of six young women trained to be soldiers sent out to extremely dangerous locations to try to help bring down The Scourge in any way possible. Their latest mission takes them deep into the irradiated countryside around Pripyat, the location of the Chernobyl reactor meltdown some fifty years before. Tasked with finding a special weapon that could help turn the tide against The Scourge, the Savage Squad are ready for anything. Or so they think. Something sinister awaits them in the darkness of Pripyat, something that will push the team to their limits.

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The first issue of Savage Squad 6 opens with a group of soldiers in Pripyat being picked off by unseen foes, ripped apart and torn to pieces by something lurking in the shadows. From here we join our central group of characters, six young soldiers unaware that they’re heading into the nightmare that us the reader has just been shown. It’s hard to gauge the age of the group, and the book’s cover makes them look to be in their early twenties, but the interior art has them much more in the mid teens range. With the book’s introduction informing the reader that all men of fighting age have been killed it does raise the question of if the Savage Squad are supposed to be teen soldiers, or if it’s just the artist’s style that makes them look younger.

Speaking of the Squad, we spend much of this first issue getting to know them and seeing bits of their personalities. Nat is the team’s new medic, and is our stand in. She doesn’t know the team, she doesn’t have a handle on their personalities yet, and we get to learn this alongside her as she goes. Cap is the leader of the group, and seems to be the most level headed and reasonable one of them. She seems to have a hard job of keeping some of the extreme personalities in the team working together, but seems to know how to keep things running as smooth as possible.

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Shells is the team’s sniper and the one most openly kind towards Nat. She takes the time to bond with her, teaches her a few things about the team, and seems to be one of the first to try to get the others to go easier on Nat. Rosie is the demolitions expert, and fits into the big, muscly, and a bit dumb stereotype that comes with the tank character. She loves to blow things up, and brings it up as much as she can. Hauser is the dick of the team. She’s confrontational towards Nat, acts like a bit of a jerk, but is also one of the toughest of the group being the first to leap into action. Mags seems to be the techy of the team, equipped with some fancy holographic gear, but seems to be the least defined when it comes to personality.

Much of this first issue feels like groundwork, setting up the world and the characters. Because of that, and because the book is trying to set up six main characters, there are some parts that feel light on solid details, and left to fill in the blanks on your own. This isn’t a terrible idea. The is clearly a world with a history, and one that’s directly informing the events of this story. But rather than giving huge infodumps to lay out every single detail and piece of lore, the writers, Robert Venditti, and Brockton McKinney, give you the bullet points and allow you to imagine the rest. It means that the story can still progress at a decent rate, and the reader is somewhat included in the process, with their own imagination doing things like picturing what The Scourge is like.

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The art, by newcomer Dalts Dalton, is pretty solid, and has a rough quality to it that works well for the setting. Things have a tough, almost jagged edge to them that fits the scourged planet and the rough and ready soldier women. Each of the women has their own distinct look and design that makes them stand out on the page straight away, which certainly helps the reader to remember who’s who and what their jobs are. Dalton also gets to expand beyond the expected towards the end of the issue when some unusual stuff happens, and the small hints that we see here make you excited to see what kind of art Dalton is going to treat us to in future issues.

Savage Squad 6 has been billed as wanting to bring ‘all the fun and abandon of ’80s-’90s action films to comics’, and this first issue seems to be on its way to doing so. It has a group of rough and tough soldiers for us to follow, and something sinister for them to fight in a remote and hostile environment. With the creator’s quote in mind it’s easy to begin to see where they might have drawn some inspiration from and what they’re giving little winks to, but time will tell if it’s able to fully capture that feeling.

Savage Squad 6 #1 is in comic shops now from Dark Horse.

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