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The Bunker: Volume One (Oni Press, 2014; #1-4)

What would you do if you dug up a time capsule, only to find a bunker full of letters from the future?  What if those letters were from you and your friends after you’d caused a plague that killed…well, almost everyone?  And what if those letters contained instructions from each of your future selves about how to avoid—or cause—the end of life as we know it?

Those questions face five friends who have to deal with their potential legacies and relationships.  Fialkov’s time-travel conspiracy story is much more serious in tone than Panelology-favorite The Life After; instead of comedy, it trades in changes to relationship.  How characters react to their future selves’ missives plays out in changes to the group's interpersonal dynamics.  It can be a little soapy sometimes, but that’s not a bad thing.  The only element I bumped my head on was one character’s history of sexual abuse; there’s always something fridgey about initially defining a female character as an abuse victim.  But time (and subsequent issues) will tell.

It makes sense that a book about trying to change the past to save the future would have a malleable, shifting look.  Joe Infunari’s art has a desaturated, faded style to it; its lines are thin and spare with deep, scratchy shadows.  Color comes and goes—sometimes deeper, sometimes completely absent.  Those black-and-white, pencil-only panels are rare and used to highlight moments; but it’s no coincidence that those moments are so often pivotal fluctuations in the characters’ stories.  

I’ve dragged by feet reading The Bunker without any real reason.  Fialkov’s story is engaging and feels like it has real stakes from the get-go.  Infunari’s art is distinctive and clever and fits the book’s themes to a T.  And at four trades total, it seems like it will be a tight, carefully plotted time-travel conspiracy story.

Collected in

  • The Bunker, Vol. 1 (#1-4)


Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov | Artist: Joe Infurnari | Letterer: Joe Inurnari | Editors: James Lucas Jones, Robin Herrera | Designer: Jason Storey

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