Devolution was announced by publisher Dynamite Comics during New York Comic Con in 2012. At the time, writer & creator Rick Remender had no relationship with Image Comics after getting his start doing creator owned work at the company. For the last few years he had found success doing his unique brand of punk rock science fiction on Marvel titles like Uncanny X-Force, Venom, The Punisher & Secret Avengers. He had just started writing Captain America and Uncanny Avengers during the Marvel Now initiative with veteran art talents John Romita Jr and John Cassady, his biggest assignments at that point of his career. Now, over three years since it’s announcement, Devolution is released in a completely different context from when it was first revealed. Remender no longer writes at Marvel and instead, has four separate ongoing series at Image Comics. Between what Devolution was as an original concept and what is now being published today, the comic feel’s familiar both thematically & stylistically to much of the writers most recent Image Comics work yet in spite of that, Devolution is probably the best debut issue from Remender since Deadly Class.
The basic concept of Devolution is that in an attempt to end war, scientist created a gas that would shut off the part of the brain that responded to religion. In doing so, the gas actually caused homosapiens to devolve and in consequence, left the world in a state of post apocalypse dystopia. Like much of Remnder’s Image work, the writing has an element of angst but in Devolution, it feel’s a little bit more sharp and biting. While there’s much of it is familiar, Devolution also takes care to build up it’s world and cast in a way that is engrossing. The debut issue packs a lot of story while still managing to set up it’s premise and by making the narration third person, there’s a detachment from the writer & character’s that help makes cast feel more distinct and engaging. These are very much Remender character’s with Remender writing, but there’s an efficiency and economy of story that elevates it in a really enjoyable way. Artist Jonathan Wayshak very much helps in that regard by giving the series a distinct visual style that feels rough and dirty. Wayshack has a scratchy line with very symmetrical character design and they way he paces the book in layouts and movement feels natural and engaging. Wayshak, whose built up a large bibliography doing mostly small press work with the occasional Image or WIldstorm assignment, is a revelation on Devolution. Colorist Jordan Boyd does a burnt amber style that further accentuates the feeling of decay for an excellent unification of the book’s themes and style.
Remender has established himself as a creative talent worth reading for every new project, and rightfully so as books like Black Science, Deadly Class, Tokyo Ghost or Low are all at minimum interesting, and often great. Devolution continues in that tradition but there’s also something special about this debut. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s noticeable and engaging. On Devolution, Remender doesn’t just continue to make great comics, in small yet distinctive ways, he gets better.