Terrorwar Volume 1 by Saladin Ahmed & Dave Acosta

w inks by Jay Leisten, colors by Walter Pereyra and letters by Shawn Lee.

I have been quite fond of Saladin Ahmed’s output ever since the publication of Throne Of The Crescent Moon, but let’s be honest: unless a book has been given to me to cover for work nowadays, I have not had the time to read it. So I was super glad when Terrorwar Volume 1, his creator-owned comic book with Dave Acosta, landed on my desk.

In a dystopian future where many of the world’s resources have been exhausted, all of humanity is gathered in Blue City, the one haven left standing on planet Earth. But even this last sprawling bastion is haunted by strange beings known only as Terrors. No one really knows what they are, only that they manifest as people’s greatest fears. If they get their hands on you, you can expect a fiery death.

Very little seems to put down the Terrors, except for the Brain Bullets that certain special individuals are capable of manifesting to destroy them. Muhammad Cho is one of these terrorfighters. He’s put together a team of similar individuals who all run together as a crew. Unfortunately, since they’re based in one of the less nice neighborhoods of Blue City, this means that they’re still desperately underfunded, and need to compete with other crews in chasing bounties so that they actually get paid for putting down the Terrors that haunt their impoverished zones. It’s all very Ghostbusters, until shock troops from the richer parts of Blue City step in to detain our plucky heroes for “unsanctioned terror engagement.”

Obviously, that’s a nonsense charge that’s being used to bring Muhammad’s crew in to meet the higher ups. Apparently, the Terrors are growing stronger, and his crew might be the only ones capable of putting them down for good. The more the team learns about the Terrors tho, the more they begin to question everything they believed about Blue City and who the bad guys really are.

This is a very solid sci-fi horror story that has clear, if not always exact, parallels to the evils of colonialization. I wasn’t ever too surprised by any of the twists, but I’ve read so many books in my lifetime that I rarely am. What I was, however, was highly entertained throughout, as the creative team brought me on a cinematic journey that had me completely absorbed in the diverse team and their epic adventures from start to finish.

And that, tbh, is the main strength of this book, the utter and excellent commitment to diversity. It’s so fogging refreshing to have Islam assumed as the default religion in this graphic novel, but to not have the religion itself be a focal point. The way that Muslim sayings and customs are just casually laced into the text, in the same way that Christianity forms the basis of otherwise irreligious entertainments in much of the First World, felt so fresh and personally freeing. It was also really great to have more than just one non-binary character, in addition to the sex positivity and LGBTQ rep throughout.

The art is generally above average, with the occasional homage to the end of the 20th century. I mean, who can look at Doctora’s amazing hair and not think of John Byrne’s Polaris? (Shut up, young people.) The commitment to diversity extends here, too, with different heroic body shapes further reinforcing the characters’ individuality.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel, and while I know it’s only a Volume 1, feel that it stands really well on its own. I only hope I get the chance to read more of Mr Ahmed’s work soon.

Terrorwar Volume 1 by Saladin Ahmed & Dave Acosta was published April 16 2024 by Image Comics and is available from all good booksellers, including

Permanent link to this article: https://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2024/04/26/terrorwar-volume-1-by-saladin-ahmed-dave-acosta/

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