After tucking away in their bunker during a nuclear attack in Nuclear Family #2, the McCleans wake to a wholly unfamiliar world. Not only is the neighborhood around them razed to the ground, ten years has passed overnight, and what’s left of the US has moved entirely underground.
The first humans they encounter are soldiers who believe the family to be Communists, and while one of them is oddly familiar, none of this makes any damned sense.
In this third chapter, the McCleans (I hate this spelling) find themselves in a pretty sketchy situation. The parents are being alternately tortured for information while the kids are being subtly programmed with anti-Communist propaganda. Things aren’t looking so good.
I was really digging what Stephanie Phillips was doing in the first couple chapters, but this one doesn’t feel quite as strong. The interactions feel a little forced. Scripted. My man Tim has just endured hours of torture, not knowing where his wife is, if she’s also being abused, or whether she’s even alive, and their reunion through stone cell walls just didn’t line up with all that.
There’s also a really clunky introduction of a character who ends up being exactly what the kids need, exactly where they need him, at the exact moment they need. Unless this ends up being a Ramsay Snow level manipulation, it’s a little too clean and convenient.
There is some dark humor, and a couple really great moments, but most of this chapter feels like a lot of ‘almost there.’
The art is a little off for me in this one as well. All that great atmosphere Tony Shasteen and JD Mettler built in chapter one is just kind of washed out here in the third. Hard to put a finger on. Maybe it’s the lighting? Everything just seems so static and posed, contrary to the established tone.
Despite a few missteps this month, as a whole, there’s still a lot of potential in Nuclear Family. Hopefully, everything tightens back up in the next installment.
Nuclear Family #3, AfterShock Comics, 28 April 2021. Written by Stephanie Phillips, art by Tony Shasteen, color by JD Mettler, letters by Troy Peteri.
The third installment of Nuclear Family doesn’t quite live up to the first two. A lot of slight misses add up to a very average chapter.