Oblivion Song Volume 1
Writer/Creator: Robert Kirkman
Creator/Artist/Cover Artist: Lorenzo De Felici
Colorist: Annalisa Leoni
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Review by Christoph Staffl
Oblivion Song tells us the story of Nathan: the somewhat skilled survivalist and engineer works effortlessly to rescue people who are stuck in Oblivion. His introduction places him as the antagonist because at first we do not know anything about him. Hunting two people and teleporting them away is an impressive first scene to introduce us to the alleged protagonist. It places him in a grey area.
On the one hand, he rescues people. On the other hand, he might not be the nice guy and hero we expect. Maybe the creators want us to prepare for surprises that await us further down the road.
You might wonder: what is the Oblivion and why are people stuck in it? At first, I was a bit confused as to the whereabouts of the Oblivion. But, as it turns out, several square miles of Philadelphia changed places with several square miles of a place called Oblivion. The incident is known as “transference.” The science behind this is similar to explanations of The Flash’s phasing and DC’s multiversity. Different Worlds have different cellular vibration but exist at the same space-time. If one is able to shift the vibrational pattern of an object or person, one can travel through those worlds. However, instead of one object, an entire area was moved.
Oblivion is a dangerous place with mysterious, giant creatures hunting people down. I love the design of those creatures. They look like nothing we have on earth, which is frightening. There is nothing to compare them to, so you don’t know what their abilities might be. How do they find you? The same is true for Oblivion itself. We don’t get to see a lot of it, just the ruins of the city and how the other world slowly takes back the lost territory. The city is also the only place that people are somewhat safe because no one knows what is out there.
Oblivion Song is different from other apocalyptic stories because it is a local event. Just a few square miles of Philadelphia are affected by the dimensional shift. Unlike scenarios like The Walking Dead, in which the entire planet is at risk, and humankind faces extinction, there are “just” a couple thousand people affected by it. At the monument they built everyone lost is mentioned by name. Therefore one has to ask: when is it time to give up and move on? Ten years have passed since the transference when we enter the story. Nathan is the last one looking for people. His obsession is grounded on something I do not want to spoil, but he has ulterior motives to keep looking.
However, civilization, infrastructure, and the government are still intact, which means Nathan needs the proper funding to keep going. But at some point, everyone else wants to move on. Even though hope can be a strong driving force, it also can destroy you if nothing comes from it but one disappointment after another.
Another theme Kirkman and De Felici explore with Oblivion Song is the theme of readjustment. How long does one need to readjust to a new world? It took years to develop the necessary technology for rescue missions. If you are stranded in a strange world for over ten years, aren’t you ready to stay there for the rest of your life? Especially if there is nothing left in the old world but pain and regret. This dimensional shift also means a new beginning for some people. Can you really say that life there is better or worse than on earth?
One last thing I want to mention is the format of this first volume. From the first page to the last you have nothing but an intriguing story. No interrupting covers, no filler pages with pencil art, just the story of the first six issues. This way you can fully embrace every twist, every dialogue, and every action sequence that is happening on the pages. That said, I do miss the bonus content at the end. Maybe we will get more in the second volume.
The Verdict: Buy it.
Oblivion Song is another testament to Robert Kirkman’s talent to draw you into strange new worlds. At the same time, at its core, the comic focuses entirely on characters. De Felici’s art perfectly captures the mood and weirdness of the Oblivion. He also has an expressive way to draw people and facial expressions, which unleash their full potential in silent pages. Add the colors by Annalisa Leoni and the letters by Rus Wooton, and you get a first arc you do not want to miss.