World War X

World War X
Alternative editions:
World War X The Complete Collection review
Alternative editions:
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Titan Comics - 978-1-78276-113-6
  • Release date: 2014
  • English language release date: 2017
  • UPC: 9781782761136
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

It may seem strange to have a 2017 publication noting almost a thousand people on the moon in one of the earliest dialogue balloons, but that’s in part because World War X was first published in French, in 2013, and is so extrapolating slightly into the future.

If artist Peter Snejbjerg has ever turned out a bad page, it’s surely not been published in English. Since the 1990s he’s been the epitome of refined storytelling, and it’s puzzling that he’s not more widely acclaimed. There’s never any doubt about what’s happening on a Snejbjerg page, and this clarity is combined with imaginative and intriguing layouts, and distinguishable characters with life and motion to them, never seeming posed. World War X requires great devastation across several eras, lunar technology, several aliens, and a lot of real life settings, and Snejbjerg illustrates them all with finesse and decorative appeal.

A US President sees his legacy as delivering new power sources from the moon, and he’s not concerned about the dire consequences being predicted by the project’s anthropologist Adesh Khan. In true action thriller fashion, instead of being heeded, the man delivering the warning is instead arrested, but he’s not one to lie down and accept his fate. We’re also introduced to a mysterious millionaire, a feisty journalist, and then we have the aliens, initially seen only fleetingly. Were Bruce Willis present he’d be down to his vest by page twenty. Jerry Frissen’s cinematic influences are obvious, and at first it seems the only significant way he’s departing from the standard action thriller template is via interludes set in the past, but the longer World War X continues, the more obvious it is that Frissen is more imaginative. The plot cuts through current political allegiances and introduces new power players, the first half being the tantalising set-up, the second more revealing about the events of the past that have led to it.

World War X isn’t entirely free of cliché, and a sex-obsessed alien is never convincing, but the plot is far stronger than it first appears. It definitely prioritises action over character development, but does so imaginatively, and with Snejbjerg on board every page looks gorgeous. Like an action-thriller? You won’t go wrong with World War X.

Titan previously published just the first half of World War X as Volume 1: Helius, and although it was in oversized hardcover this is the version for the complete story.