LOLA XOXO: WASTELAND MADAM #1 (of 4) Review
“Waste of Time” (20 pages)
Written by: Vince Hernandez
Art by: Siya Oum
Letters by: Josh Reed
Publisher: Aspen/MTL Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
[Disclaimer: I have not read the previous mini simply titled LOLA XOXO. I’m going into this blind. Thus, I take the plunge!]
A flashback to an unspecified time opens the sequel(?)/prequel(?) A young couple are strolling the outskirts of Chi-Town. The highlight of the walk is when Trevor pops the question to Madeline. She’s taken aback by his proposal. That is to be expected but what really has her wide-eyed is a mushroom cloud that has devastated the mid-western metropolis. No one can outrun radiation. Those two are no exception.
Present day. The setting is simply known as ‘Wasteland’. Maddy has graduated from helpless innocent waif to hardened resistance leader. There’s a standoff at a bridge. Some thugs want to pass. The macho men are all smug since they think they can easily shoo away the single female. After some pointless bravado, Maddy pulls out a detonator and presses the button. Bye-bye, baddies.
Maddy is picked up by Waylon, one of her colleagues. He laments the destruction of the bridge but Maddy assures him that it is one less path that leads to the HQ which is the former O’Hare airport. Waylon is a bit dismayed at how Maddy has embraced more violent ways. She assures him that despite having changed, there’s nothing radically wrong with her.
The next flashback determines a more specific chain of events. One whole year ago, Maddy sees Trevor at a makeshift hospital. He suffered too many burns from the radiation. Take a guess as to where this is going. Her fleeting fiancé perishes thus creating the impetus for Maddy’s transformation.
The focus shifts on two brothers: Pat and Landon. The younger sib (Pat) is egging his older bro to pop the question to Maddy. He’s noticed how Landon longingly looks at her. Landon brushes it off and turns his attention to an escape from the post-apocalyptic scenario: an airplane. Having the HQ where it is makes perfect sense. Waylon sees that something is deep-seated within Maddy. He admits that he doesn’t have the skills of a shrink but offers to be a sounding board. The touching moment is interrupted by an explosion. The base has been infiltrated! All hands rally and take arms.
Another look into the recent past. Maddy wanders aimlessly, separated from Trevor. Despite the vastness of the landscape, a jeep mows her down. Having to live in a virtual wasteland is bad enough. What’s even worse is that it is now a misogynistic world, accentuated tenfold by the tragedy. Maddy is scooped away by the unknown assailant. Suffice to say that this traumatic experience shapes her future self.
Maddy barks out orders. The two brothers will form a perimeter around the base. She asks for the whereabouts of Waylon’s team. Just as the ragtag band formulates the plan, one of their own is shot. A lone gunman has Lando’s brother Pat dead to rights. The mystery man acknowledges Madam (Maddy) and falsely states how pleased he is to see her again.
What happened previously to Maddy? Some pug has here bound and bagged. He marvels at her beauty. The misogyny is kicked up a notch (literally!) when Maddy gets hit in the stomach. What a bloody bastard!! The kidnapper steps in and chastises his lackey. A real gem like Maddy has to be handled with care since she’ll be used for procreating. Return to the dark ages, anyone?!?
This standoff is a lot more personal. The stakes are much higher. Surprise, surprise. The one-man army is the same one who kidnapped our heroine. Alton is his name-o. The insult digs deeper when he tells her that leadership isn’t a natural fit. She agrees to acquiesce. I can’t believe Landon would have to vocalize the fact that it’s a trap. By doing so, he questions Maddy’s strategy and undermines her authority. What’s worse is that he’s too emotionally involved to see the pretense of her plan. The best way to beat a bully is to stand up. How to end a potential shoot-out? Maddy refuses to give Alton the satisfaction of gaining the upper hand. She puts two bullets into Pat. There! What now, tough guy?
Alton has just been emasculated :0 On that note, this is only the beginning.
I find myself in an interesting situation in that I have no prior knowledge of the series or the writer. Using my own logic, I see this mini as (1) a sequel, (2) a prequel, or (3) a parallel story. The plot is quite straightforward. Vince Hernandez’s dialogue isn’t particularly grabbing. There’s only a minute amount of suspense and intrigue. The characters are cardboard. The time-shifting is choppy and ineffective.
Siya Oum is the star of this title. She is one of the main draws (pun intended!) at Aspen. She was the originator of the first series, after all. She did it all herself. Despite the doom-and-gloom scenario, her visuals offer the opposite: Maddy does not look tough-as-nails even if her personality has done a 360. The other characters are comfortable in their skins. Siya’s colours focus on the light thus dissipating the dark days that the cast now face. Her layouts are precise and the panel work is fairly linear. There is no deviation.
The setup is established but there is not enough pathos evoked by the lead. Interestingly enough, Madam is a pun: (1) a play-on-words of Maddy’s name, and (2) her status among the rebels. As the first entry, I give this book a 6 out of 10.