You know you’re in for some post-Apocalyptic hi-jinx when a comic opens on an image of a trashed-out California highway and the first narration says simply, “The Emptiness.” The hero surveying said emptiness (which we’re told is Apache Junction, Arizona, even though an interstate sign is clearly marked “California”) is Sgt. Drake McCoy, a lone wolf type scouting the desolate landscape for retrievable technology to take back to one of the few surviving cities, New San Diego (home of the New ComiCon, mayhaps?). Drake, by his own admission, gets a charge out of the desolation as it’s far removed from the trappings of so-called civilization. “It makes me feel like they’re not looking and listening over my shoulder,” he explains in interior monologue even as, ironically, an unseen band watches him from afar.
Within a few short pages of Marksmen #1 (Benaroya/Image), our hero runs into an ownerless dog he names Chewbacca, a band of cannibals, plus a group of refugees from one of the other extant western cities, Lone Star. The last are fleeing the cultish community for the more scientifically minded New San Diego, though right behind ‘em is an army that’s looking to loot NSD for its techno goodies. Even though its leaders give lip service to overseeing a faith-based community, they’re not above a little old-fashioned pillaging. Typical religio hypocrites, in other words.
Scripter David Baxter takes this Road Warrior set-up and smoothly sets it up (doesn’t tell us the significance of the title in the first of this six-ish mini-series, however). At this point in pop history, post-Apocalypse yarns are as formulaic as westerns — a fact of genre that is heightened by this familiar-but-diverting story’s southwest setting. Penciller Javiar Aranda (aided by inkman Gerry Leach) convincingly depicts the tale’s landscape and players, even if his headshot of a grim-faced Drake at times looks overly reminiscent of Judge Dredd. Must be an unwritten rule which sez that futuristic hard-asses have to have a jawline Bruce Campbell would envy.