A solar flare has destroyed every device on Earth with a microchip. A band of survivors has struck out for a government outpost to find out what’s going on, but they’re not alone, a militant group is attempting a coup, and has set their sights on the group!
Title: Solar Flare Season 2: Port Charlotte
Writer: James Haick
Art: Branko Javonovic
Colors: JM Ringuet & Miguel Marques
Letters: Andworld Designs
Publisher: Scout Comics
Release Date: May 18th, 2018
What You Need to Know:
A solar flare has wiped out every electronic on Earth, as far as we know. (An obvious lack of communication makes it hard to tell) A pair of scientists has an idea what’s going on, but for more information, they need to make it to a nearby lab that is protected from the flare. Luckily a man named Jake is headed out to find his daughter and make sure she’s safe, they’re all headed in the same direction, so they band together. Now Jake and a couple friends are traveling across the countryside, but they aren’t alone.
A militant group called the New Americans is attempting a coup on the scattered Florida government and killing people who don’t agree with them. They’re convinced the power and electronic outage is a result of a terrorist EMP, and have singled out the two scientists as being worthy of suspicion due to their assertion there was no terrorist attack, the travelers are being hunted!
What You’ll Find Out:
We open on a man named Brent (a friend of Jake’s from season one, currently traveling with Jake) a day before the flare. He wakes up a bit late and his fiance helps him get ready, as he rushes to get ready she asks him if he picked an engagement photo yet, of course, he didn’t. He rushes off for the bus and she tells him someone named Rusty Brown keeps texting him, he chastises her for looking at his phone, and leaves for the bus, asking her to bring his keys later.
As he gets on the bus he gets another text from Rusty, who turns out to be a girl from a bar, he tells her he can’t see her tonight. Suddenly Brent gets a call from his Dad, asking where he is, his Dad is mad that he’s late, and complains about Brent being undependable, Brent sighs and arrives at work. The day goes on, with a welder refusing to weld a beam until he has lunch, Brent tells him to do it but the man refuses and leaves for lunch.
After lunch the man finishes the weld really quickly, and tells his helper to take the braces off, Brent tells the helper not to, but the man pretends not to hear and takes it off anyway. Suddenly the gigantic steel I beam breaks free, Brent barely warns a man walking by in time but manages to save his life. (I’m in the construction industry, this is super accurate, subcontractors cutting corners with dangerous results is common) He fires the two insubordinate men.
He gets home (after a stop with Rusty) and plays some video games, finally picking out an engagement photo. He goes to bed, as he falls asleep, the green glow from the flare begins to creep across the sky.
We cut to present day, the group, headed by Jake Clifford. They are settling down to camp somewhere in Northern Florida as a storm begins to build. A side effect of the flare, supercell thunderstorms will become more common as the Earth’s electromagnetic field has been damaged. Soon the winds become too heavy and the group is forced to abandon their tents and campsite and head for solid shelter at a campsite nearby. Frank (Jake’s no-nonsense ex-Navy neighbor) initially protests, as they’re being hunted by the New Americans, but has to concede that the New Americans will be the least of their problems if they get hit by a tornado.
As they reach their shelter they look across a nearby valley and see several tornadoes tearing across the landscape, and that’s not all they see, there are campfires across the river, the New Americans are catching up.
We cut across the river to the New American camp, Jake’s uncle (a New American right-wing nutjob) is talking to the New American General, the General asks him if all the ways across the river are guarded and he says yes, except an old railroad bridge, but there’s no need to block it as it’s heavily damaged by a hurricane. The General chastises him and says any method of traversal is important if they’re going to catch Jake’s group, and sends a contingent that way.
We cut back to the campsite, the weather has calmed, and the group is planning their next move. Brent wants to take the highway bridge, which is a bit further but easier to cross, whereas Frank insists they need to take the damaged railway bridge to elude their pursuers. They survey the landscape and see that the New Americans have set up checkpoints on the highway bridge. Looks like they’re stuck taking the broken bridge.
Suddenly Brent spots a large group of New Americans headed toward the campsite. They need to bail, fast. Figs (one of the scientists) realizes he left his bag at the first campsite, someone is gonna have to go back for it, it has the address to the lab they’re headed towards. Jake volunteers as he’s fastest, he heads back while the main group heads toward the rail bridge.
Jake grabs the bag and heads to the bridge, the rest of the team is part of the way across, they have a harness and rope set up, and Jake struggles to put it on as the New Americans head towards them. As he starts to climb he slips and dislocates his shoulder.
The group pulls him up and Brent pops his shoulder in, Frank signals them to be quiet, The New Americans are setting up camp below the bridge, and one of them says he’s gonna head back and report. When he arrives at the NA base Jakes uncle notices a shirt he’s wearing, it was Jakes, the man says he found it in a tent that had blown down near the water. The New Americans know the group is close!
The group has reached Jake’s client’s house, where they hope to find supplies and possibly an older car. (microchipless cars are unaffected by EMPs, something to remember when the apocalypse comes!) Turns out Jakes client is a former Devil Rays pitcher, they talk baseball for a while Jake gets the spare keys. They notice the sliding glass doors are open, they might not be alone.
Jake and Figs assistant (her name is seriously escaping me right now) start to search the house, which has been thoroughly ransacked, suddenly an alarm goes off, loud and clear in a world without electricity! In a nearby house a group of armed New Americans looks up, Jake’s uncle is with them, confused that an alarm is going off with no power, they look around, trying to find it’s source, suddenly a couple gunshots ring out from a nearby house. They run over to find one of their members walking out, he tells them the old man inside was giving him lip so he killed him. The other members don’t celebrate, but they don’t chastise him either. Eeesh.
We jump back to Jake, who runs around the house to find Frank yelling at Brent, who broke a window to try and get in. Figs realizes that the garage looks to be protected against solar flares, just like his lab.
Figs and his assistant head inside to try and turn the alarm off, and Frank and Brent continue fighting (they’ve been fighting since season 1, he’s kind of an idiot, not to mention he did things with Frank’s daughter haha) Brent takes a swing at Frank, who knocks him to the ground and tells him he gets one chance, next time he gets hurt.
Suddenly the alarm cuts, and the door opens, the group is shocked to find they hit the motherlode, apparently Jakes client collected classic cars and the garage has at least 20 cars in it that won’t be affected by the flare. Not only did they find cars, but they also found a huge supply of MRE food, Figs complains none of them are vegetarian. (In a survival type situation like this I assume the vegetarians and vegans will either adapt or die) Frank brings everyone back to Earth and says they need to get moving, that alarm is sure to have caught someones attention.
Brent asks why they aren’t going up the coast, which is more direct, Figs tells him they need to stay away from Jacksonville, there are 2 nuclear power plants there that failed safety inspections in regards to solar flare safety. meaning those plants are likely in full nuclear meltdown right now. (love this touch, this book definitely feels like a realistic representation of what might happen during a disaster of this magnitude)
Suddenly a dot appears on Brent’s head, and the lights turn off, a voice yells to get out, and counts down. Jake realizes the Hurleys have a daughter who might have been hiding. Jake calls out her name and the lights come back on, Sammy comes running up to Jake.
She asks the group what happened, and they explain the solar flare. She understands immediately, and says her parents put in shielding in the garage at the advice of a group they were in, The New Americans!
Jake and Sammy walk through her parent’s house, which still has power due to her parent’s protection against this kind of thing. (it can be done look it up, not a terrible idea) As she leads Jake up to her parent’s room for a shoulder sling, he notices a huge mess on the main floor, as they head up the stairs she tells him she was having a huge party when the power went out, which explains all the cars on the street outside. All the guests took off when the power went out, without cleaning up.
They reach the room and she finds Jake the sling, as she helps him put it on she asks if she can come with them, she doesn’t want to be alone. Jake tells her it’s too dangerous with the New Americans hunting them, and she gets upset. Jake notices some New American gear in her dad’s closet. She says he was a member but bailed when he found out the group had ties to some racist groups.
Suddenly a banging reverberates through the house, they run to the window, and spot a pair of New Americans knocking on the gate with automatic weapons!
We cut to the New Americans, who are standing outside, one of them says their orders are to look first and shoot if needed. They need to take their time and assess the situation, he heads back to a house the visited earlier to grab a ladder. He tells the other two men to hang out, that way no one can leave if there’s anyone inside.
Jake wants to cut and run out the back, but Brent decides now is the time to stand his ground and fight. (how is this guy still alive?) Jake argues and Brent continues waving a gun around and acting like a jerk. Frank reappears from the bathroom and grabs some of Mr. Hurley’s New American gear, putting it on he tells Brent to follow his lead.
Layla tells them all they need to figure it out, the New Americans have jumped the fence and are headed their way! Frank runs around the corner behind them before they can walk into the house and poses as a New American defending his property telling them to get lost. (freaking genius!) As they turn their guns his way Brent flanks them, posing as Franks son, they now are in the middle of a standoff. The New Americans refuse to stand down and Sammy pops up with a shotgun, stacking the odds against the pair.
The New Americans decide that Frank and his 2 “kids” are legit. Frank tells them he’ll help with their search and whispers to Brent that he’ll lead them away. As Frank leaves with the men their leader comes back from his hunt for a ladder, he is obviously not as impressed as his 2 lesser compatriots.
He tells his men if they don’t tell him who Frank is he’ll shoot him (did I mention he’s covered in blood? This is the same guy that killed the old man earlier) He is assured that Frank is a New American. Momentarily satisfied he eases up a little, joking about the blood a bit, having clearly just killed some folks.
He tells them that they need to finish searching the neighborhood before General Stonemaker arrives. He tells Frank he’s with him, as they walk down the street the man brags about an Asian family he just killed. The story is kind of chilling, I’ll leave it for you to discover. As he wraps it up he tries to light a smoke, Frank offers to show him a trick he learned in the navy, the man hands his lighter over and Frank punches him in the face and kicks him several times.
The other two rush over, startled at the commotion, Frank explains what a psycho their friend is, one of them seems to understand. The other one says their man has no pulse, he’s dead. The reasonable man freaks out and says Stonemaker is going to kill them, the man’s name was Cutter and he was Stonemakers right-hand man, suddenly the second man sucker punches Frank and hits him on the ground a couple times, somehow Frank gains the upper hand and takes him down. He turns back to the reasonable man and tells him his friend will be fine. As he talks to him the downed man stands up with a knife and charges. Frank takes him down spectacularly. Suddenly Mr reasonable jumps in and the two men attack Frank again, he takes down the violent man and the second man runs for it, Frank curses and says it didn’t have to be like this.
Frank hears a scream for help from the next house over, he runs over with Cutter’s gun to find the third man beating on a girl, he says Stonemaker is coming and they need to hide, this girl needs to let him hid there, Frank tells him to let the girl go. The man throws the girl and she lands on the ground with a sickening crack, Frank walks past the girl’s body, kicks the door down, and a single shot rings out.
I’m leaving the last part of this story open for you to discover, holy crap it is shocking. Get this book!
What Just Happened?
This series is amazing, and this second volume is a delight. The idea of having a realistic comic set after a natural disaster is brilliant, I love the concept and the small nuances like the thunderstorms and the nuclear reactor are so interesting. As well as that, the New Americans are such a totally realistic group, not even necessarily villainous, although they’re getting worse as the story progresses, and depending on whether what Jake’s uncle says at the end is true, they might have been evil all along.
I really enjoyed the time at the Hurley house, it would be awesome to find a house in a situation like this that was prepared. Speaking of nuances that make it feel like a real disaster, the classic cars running due to no microchips is also a good one. I’m glad, the idea of walking from Florida to North Carolina seems daunting.
It was kind of crazy how quickly things have escalated, in the first arc we were shocked when Jake’s uncle killed one violent man, in this arc, the New Americans have killed nearly everyone they’ve met, I guess that’s what a coup is though.
I can’t believe how this arc ends, I left it off deliberately but it all does come to a head in a few ways, and I was a bit shocked at more than a couple points. The fight towards the end was pretty excellent and felt like a real fight, the way Branko Javanovic depicts movement is brilliant. The fight flows just like a fight should, and it was great seeing Cutter get his comeuppance. The final page I shared was amazing with the static foreground of the young dead girl, and Frank in the background.
I really liked the atmospheric conditions present, the green glow of the solar flare permeates everything and adds a lot of interesting opportunities for backgrounds. It makes me think of the eclipse last year, the light was so strange and otherworldly for a moment, and this seems similar in a way. So cool!
I’m taking the final issue into account with my rating, holy crap it was good, this whole arc was great, rock solid and super interesting. You seriously want to preorder this book, Scout’s physical books are top notch in terms of quality. Man, that and has me feeling a bit. Visit Scout’s website for other great titles, I recommend Stabbity Bunny! Visit Solar Flare’s website for further info!
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