The Threat Issues #1 to 4
Publisher: Stratum Comics
Writer: Mark Schmidt & Vince Chuter
Artists: Jose Fernandez (Issue #1), Daniel Wichinson (Issue #2), Jordi Perez Estevez & Leandro Panganiban (Issue #3), Matthew Weldon (Issue #4)
Inks: Jordi Perez Estevez (Issue #2), Mostafa Moussa (Issue #3)
Colors: William Anderson
Letters: Mark Schmidt
Review by PeteR
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. President Dwight Eisenhower, January 17, 1961
Weird I don’t mind. Weird is good. Weird you can roll with. Hunter S. Thompson
The first issue of The Threat charts the upward trajectory of business man Michael Swai and the decline of civilization. Swai, with his complete disregard for human suffering in his quest for profit, rises to be the CEO of a biomedical corporation called Anitec. The company’s goal is perfecting human augmentation to sell to the military. A pandemic erupts worldwide as the human genome has been breaking down with each passing generation. The natural antibodies that protect people from cancer, AIDS, Pneumonia, etc. have been eroding over time. Anitec, has a possible cure but governmental bureaucracy prevents them from human testing, even though mankind’s survival is quickly ticking away. Swai authorizes Anitec to illegally utilize mosquitoes as a delivery system, to release his antidote. His solution while curing some people also mutates a percentage of the population, providing them with additional abilities. These people are called Virals. The major World’s governments are unable to cope with the pandemic and collapse, leaving corporations, like Anitec to fill in the sociological vacuum. The wealthy thrive and the poor starve.
Nathan Chase and his friend, Kevin Turner are two of the people affected by the virus. Kevin’s hyper evolution is able to quickly create a blue exoskeleton formed from the calluses that skin creates, over time to protect itself from rigorous usage or friction. This protects him increases his strength. Although not stated, I have a theory on why Kevin’s skin turns blue when he transform. I am interested in finding out if I am correct. Nathan is naturally a very smart person and is trying to figure out a way to prevent the erosion of mankind’s immune systems. Unfortunately he lacks both money and resources.
In 2035 Nathan, Kevin, their friend Paul Jacobs continue to struggle trying to figure out a way to halt the pandemic while trying to sustain a group of survivors in the church Kevin’s father is the pastor of. Nathan comes up with a potential treatment but also inadvertently figures out what was the biological root cause of the pathogen. He takes his findings to Swai at Anitec. Nathan refuses to voluntarily work for Anitec so Swai attempts to kidnap him. Kevin, Paul and Marla mount a rescue operation. They are joined by a vigilante whose power comes from the merging of two people (Dominick and Evan) into one being.
The Threat is the brain child of Mark Schmidt and Vince Chuter. They have been able to produce the first four issues through a Kickstarter campaign. Reading the first four installments of The Threat reminded me of the first couple of issues of Nexus and Justice Machine in the 1980s. Initially, both those titles got off to shaky starts. The contents were uneven and they went through a couple of publishing companies before they found solid creative ground. Each issue of The Threat has different artists preventing any sense of a homogenized vision. That said, there was a noticeable improvement with each passing issue. The narrative and pacing became less frenetic. There are a couple of dangling sequential challenges. The first issue was introduced as Paul recounting the events as an older man. That seemed to have been dropped by the second issue. Anitec enforcer, Givens, who plays an important part in issues #1 and 2 is completely missing from issues #3 and 4. The Threat contains numerous different characters and keeping up with who is where at a specific time can be challenging.
Why you should buy this book? As I have stated in other reviews, my biggest complaint about futuristic stories is if the writers are lazy and provide bad science. One of the things I enjoyed about The Threat is the creators take great pains to show the gradual evolution of the technology they are utilizing as the story progresses. The chronological breakdown of each scientific leap adds credibility to the concepts.
Mark Schmidt and Vince Chuter’s The Threat given enough time and room to breathe, has a chance to be an enthralling comic. The first two issues are a tad muddled. A lot of background information is being established and there is an overabundance of the narrative jumping back and forth in time to introduce characters. The strength of the chronological evolution of the science is also a hindrance the first time a new reader leaps into the series. I would like to see how The Threat would read as a trade paperback after availing itself to the talents of a good editor. I enjoyed the overall concept of The Threat and am interested in observing the series’ continued improvement.
The team creating The Threat is currently working on a new Kickstarter drive to finance issue #5. You can support its creation at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stratumcomics/the-threat-comic-series?ref=nav_search. The artwork for The Threat #5 is being created by Legend of Wonder Woman artists, Ray Dillion and his wife, Renae De Liz. They are in the process of conducting a Patreon drive for their creator own comic, Lady Powerpunch. You can find more information about it at https://www.patreon.com/posts/first-post-to-11501490
The first four issues of The Threat are available in digital format on Comixology and on the Stratum website, www.stratumcomics.com. For those of you who prefer actual paper in your hands, physical copies of The Threat can also be ordered on the website or with you visit Team Threat at a comic convention, say like, the Salt Lake City Con in September.