On the surface, 2021: Lost Children #1 is an interesting, paranormal thriller that shows us a war-torn Detroit that has seceded from the United States. Its inhabitants are under the control of the hypnotic powers of a madman. On a deeper level, 2021: Lost Children attempts to show us the effects of war on those caught in the middle of the conflicts, as well as their morally ambiguous choices. Without further ado, let’s find out if 2021: Lost Children is successful at blending entertainment and a serious topic to create a sci-fi spectacular, or a run-of-the-mill soldier story.
The story opens on a convoy making its way through the now independent state of Detroit which is attacked seconds later, resulting in almost complete annihilation of the convoy’s soldiers. The remaining members leave the convoy, presenting us with the young children that the story follows. Each child holds their own extraordinary abilities that come with a single downside: whenever one uses a power they begin aging. The longer the power, the older they become. Throughout the story we are shown that the children take commands only from a man known as “father,” who is the acting head of an unknown military group. Their only mission is to take down the resistance leader of Detroit: Ike Mercy, two characters with similar abilities to the children.
As the story progresses we are shown the lengths the children are willing to go to accomplish whatever task they are ordered to do, even if this means death from overuse of their powers. The idea of the children’s abilities directly relating to age is an interesting metaphor used to show the toll taken on a soldier throughout war, especially on children. Throughout the story we see the children become vastly different ages despite them all starting the story at a close age range, some taking the toll of the fight far harder than others. The story also gives us some insight into the children. To cope with the extreme aging, they take a pill known as an “update” that brings their mental age in line with their physical. In one scene when the child known as “One” ages into mid-adulthood we are shown the stress and mental anguish “One” experiences before taking the “update.”
The story takes a few twists and turns, with some scenes being particularly standout and others being slightly confusing and in need of explanation in the issues to come. Overall, the story is a satisfying piece with a deep narrative that slowly puts forth the horror and anguish faced by the child soldiers forced to grow up quickly on the battlefield. On the downside, the characters could use more personality, especially the children. At the end of the comic “One” is the only child with any real semblance of depth within their character, although there is a lot of setup waiting to be built upon for other characters so perhaps we’ll see this in later issues.
The artwork is the weakest part of the issue, making use of 3D-rendering that leaves characters looking oddly shaded and lacking in detail, especially in the facial area which the issue constantly shows the reader. Due to this the kids are confusingly interchangeable until the end of the comic. The colours helps the 3D-rendered art as the city of Detroit and its people are shown in a drab, melancholic colour palette that gives the comic an oppressive look, with the children being the only remotely brighter looking individuals within the entire issue. As of now however, the art does nothing exciting. It resembles most other 3D-rendered art and certainly wouldn’t stand out amongst them in the art department. Hopefully when the issues continue rolling out, the art will find its feet and become a little more standout.
The story and writing are the strongest part of the comic as the art lacks any personality right now. This is a comic I’d recommend to those that like comics that are a slow burn or those that like comics with a lot of depth in their story. Overall, 2021: Lost Children #1 is an interesting sci-fi comic that has the potential of becoming something spectacular.