When the Outrunners Come Out and Play

outrunners1Some people make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Some resolve to stop smoking. My resolution is to review web comics more often. Let’s see if this lasts longer than the average resolution…

TheOutrunners; story by Jonathan Gelatt; art by Andrew Krahnke; new pages every Wednesday.

This comic could be subtitled, “When Fossil fuels are outlawed,only outlaws will have fossil fuels.”  The setting of  TheOutrunners is a near future America, where in order to preserve the dwindling supplies of fossil fuels, the government has  enacted some draconian measures. As the introductory text block explains:

“Private citizens are allowed to operate government-sanctioned solar-powered autos and nothing else. The right to own and operate firearms has been withdrawn…Air travel is a thing of the past, highway travel is restricted, monitored and a privilege now belonging only to government transport and cross-country product shipment. For  intercity travel, rail is law and all are expected to submit.”

As you might imagine, competition over the remaining resources is becoming fiercer and less legal .  More and more, thepolice have to deal with gangs who “rob from the rich; they rob from the poor;they rob from each other.” one such gang is the Outrunners, who travel onillegal, restored motorcycles.

The general environment of  The Outrunners resembles the classic anime Akira and the stylized gangs of the Walter Hill movies The Warriors and Streets of Fire. The latter is one ofmy favorite movies, but, frankly, it took me a little while to warm to themembers of the Outrunners.  Burning gasoline in these circumstances feels more like an act of stupidity than an act of rebellion. Also,  Rec, a woman in the gang seems a little too attached owning –and using—her gun.

On the other hand, Char, the leader, seems to genuinely understand some of the responsibilities he has.  He tries to keep Rec under control and he gives some younger gang members some advice that is realistic and compassionate, in its fashion.  Char is probably short of Charlie, or maybe even Chairman, but I’m wondering if it isn’t also a reference to  Char Aznable, the morally ambiguous antagonist—it’s probably simple-minded to call him a villain– of the original Gundam saga.

There are roughly 60 pages of this comic currently available on line. They deal primarily with a failed robbery attempt and the start of a war against a rival gang, the Revs.  I think I’d rather seethe plot moving a bit faster. However, Gellatt and Krahnke  produce some excellent action sequences and the art captures the feel of the world well. Gellatt creates an elaborate slang vocabulary for thecast. The specific meanings of the words are not all immediately  clear, but the general sense of the wordsare.

A unique aspect of this strip is that the creators have commissioned music as a soundtrack for their story.  There’s approximately 45 minutes worth of music and the tracks I listened to  I liked quite a bit. Click on  “Page Index” to get the link to the soundtrack.

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