The number of credits on the opening pages is not a good sign. Exile to Babylon is a story by Dom Mazuram adapted by David Lapham from a movie screenplay by Matt Sevelloni. What isn’t mentioned is that at the time Exile to Babylon was produced there was only a screenplay and no movie has since been released. It all has the distressing stench of a graphic novel intended as nothing but movie storyboards for a prospective financier.

It’s a largely unimaginative story, but it can be seen how the concepts would translate to a cheap action film. Resources are at a premium in 2040 when criminals have the choice of jail or being allocated to Blackshield military contractors as slave labour, chipped to ensure no chance of escape. The result is a mashing together of Mad Max, The Warriors, The Dirty Dozen and Assault on Precinct 13 where gangsters with facial tats vie for what they can get in a grubby deterioration of Los Angeles. Axel Blade is the top Blackshield enforcer and he has his work cut out when a full scale gang uprising takes place.

Lapham has proved himself as first rate comic creator, but obviously still has to pay the bills. If it was paying the bills by adapting third rate, predictable genre trash like this that sent him back to Stray Bullets we can all be grateful. He’s professional enough to build character via dialogue and narrative captions, but his heart’s obviously not in it. The irony is that he can also draw far better than artist Patric Reynolds.

The central relationship is completely unconvincing, and no cliché is left unused. You can almost start with a tick box sheet on page one and fill it in as you read through as that’s what the writers have done. Don’t waste your time.