THE SUNDERLAND by Jon Renzella


Volume One: Schism
written and illustrated by by
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The world is torn into radically divergent societies after the economy collapses in Renzella and Weiss’ stark graphic novel debut.

In the near future, the Earth’s fuel reserves will run out within a decade, but the discovery of a new energy resource promises fuel for the next 75 years. Environmental activists who oppose the corporation Petrolol’s essentially strip-mining this resource from Earth are elated about a second discovery of a clean power source. But the announcement of this find has detrimental results—Petrolol is rendered worthless, which, in a peculiar turn, causes the economy to crash. Many people become homeless and experience violent storms and a mysterious virus. The world ultimately splits into diverse groups that seem to be on the brink of war. Scientists conduct experiments in the Towers; the military hides away in subterranean bunkers; and worshippers of the Earth goddess, Pachamama, isolate themselves in eco-domes. The military has a mole embedded in the latter group (often called “the Hippies”) while also infiltrating followers of Serin Civetta, a zealot who’s convinced many that reptilian aliens are behind Earth’s devastation. But aliens are just one possible explanation of the sudden appearance of two new towers that soar above the existing Towers. Or they may be, as the military surmises, weapons. The tale is a scathing commentary on societal divides, whether politically or religiously motivated. Much of the narrative occurs as flashbacks, with events leading to what’s known as the Schism. As this is Volume 1, months preceding the Schism are left unexplored, while a gleefully perplexing conclusion sets the stage for proposed later installments. Despite text unaccompanied by word balloons, strong, distinctive dialogue makes it easy to comprehend who’s speaking each line. Nevertheless, the book’s most accomplished feature is Renzella’s unique woodcut illustrations. Broad, bold lines still manage nuance, including clear facial expressions, while thoroughly filling pages with artwork.

A well-imagined adventure coupled with striking black-and-white imagery.

ISBN: 978-986-91676-0-4
Publisher: Lei Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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