It currently has 2 volumes, but my review will be focusing on Vol 1.
It tells the story of an Atlantis-like island city ruled by a shadowy Council with dark secrets to protect, and a group of rebels, called the Militia, who plot against this Council. In the middle of all this are two brothers Sorrentine & Ambrose, who are going through their own issues and are destined to be major parts of the island’s future.
Right from the start you are thrown into the action, as a pair of armour clad soldiers go up against a huge robot. It is an exciting and well paced intro and a great start. Its biggest draw however is the coloring. The majority of the book is in black and white but certain select sections, including the opening sequence and the introduction of the Council, are highlighted with a powerful blue that really enhances the art, much like the splashes of red (and yellow) used by Frank Miller for Sin City.
The majority of the art is quite good, with a manga-esque feel to it, and with only a few instances where it is lacking polish. The layouts are interesting, with some deviations from standard comics layouts that sometimes work but in a couple of sequences the flow is a tad incoherent. Thankfully these are few and far between and are easily offset by some of the better panels/pages, especially the fight between Lode & Sorrentine and the myth of the Maiden of the Lake. The design of the world is also very well done.The story is engaging but didnt have anything that really blew me away. The story of 2 brothers with opposing views isn’t all that original and the ending is clearly heavily influenced by Akira, but I enjoyed the journey, and there were little things that stood out for me; the Council’s scheme to control the populace, the almost Kryptonian class system, (with citizens being placed into roles that suit the state instead of what they are actually good at), everyone has an inherent ability, and the idea that there is actually a wider world out there that has been kept hidden. There were a couple of things that nagged at me, with the main one being – SPOILER ALERT – if I’m reading the map scale right the island is roughly the size of Australia. If that’s the case, then for Ambrose to do what he does at the end, he would have had to focus a ridiculous amount of force in his vicinity and anyone near him would be dead, including Ambrose himself. Yet he and some people standing right next to him survive. A very small thing I grant you, but it stood out for me. However, the most important aspect of a story for me is the characters and most of the characters in Cataclysm, like Lode & Odlanyeres, are quite well fleshed out, with definitive personalities. Unfortunately this doesn’t include the two main characters, Sorrentine & Ambrose, who are are quite generic and cliched. Yet I am looking forward to reading Vol 2 to see if they grow and become more defined as their story continues.
The book also comes with DVD like extras in its Appendix, including a Glossary, History of the world, List of Characters, Gallery and Map. The History is very entertaining, and lends an almost fantasy element to the otherwise quite sci-fi like story.
I confess I hadn’t heard of Armando or his work before he contacted me, but after reading this I will make sure that I keep up with his future work, and I recommend you do the same. Cataclysm shows a lot of promise and he is definitely one to watch. You can find more of Armando’s work, including both volumes of Cataclysm as well as some great artwork, (with my favourite being a cool as hell Leonardo pic), at his website – armando-batista.com