Comic Book Review – Nuclear Family #1

Nuclear Family #1

Writer – Stephanie Phillips

Artist – Tony Shasteen

Do you need a respite from the crushing weight of 2021? Do you wish you lived in a world free of smart phones and social media? Let’s take a trip back to 1957 and visit the McCleans in the first issue of Nuclear Family.

The world is abuzz with the launch of Sputnik and the march of Communism across the globe. Tim McClean is just your normal, average family man that spends his days selling used cars. He comes home after a long day to greet his daughter, Robin, and son, Henry, at the door to their modest home, as his wife finishes dinner. Everything seems perfect and idyllic, until sirens blare through their neighborhood. Tim goes outside to see what is happening. He and his neighbor, Sam, exchange pleasantries as an explosion rumbles down the block. Tim tells Sam to get inside and get his family to their basement as he heeds his own advice. As Tim tries to calm his family’s fears, he thinks that this is the beginning of the end. Who is responsible for these acts of destruction and will the McCleans and their neighbors survive the onslaught?

Stephanie Phillips gives us a slice of Americana with a heavy dose of sci-fi/dystopian themes for good measure in this first issue. The Cold War was a time in which Americans lived in constant fear, not knowing what the Soviets would do to their beloved U.S.A. or the world at large. You were safe as long as you remembered to Duck and Cover. DUCK AND COVER!

This comic made the Comic Burritos’ Top Nine last week and I hurried to my local comic shop to pick up a copy. The cover by Tony Shasteen is both disturbing and poignant. A Sears Family Photo that’s a snapshot of life in the Wastelands. I wonder if they are smiling under those gas masks. I can imagine Mrs. McClean telling Henry not to slouch and Tim telling Robin to stand up straight just before that picture is taken. I enjoy the double meaning of the term Nuclear Family for this series. It’s smart and inventive.

Three comic books series I’ve read so for this year (Scout’s Honor, Deep Beyond, and now, Nuclear Family) show us the world as we know it devastated by some sort of cataclysmic event. As much as I love a glimpse of a dystopian world, I’m starting to get fatigued by these stories. Its only because of the state of the world we live in now because of the pandemic. I will say that reading these books have put my own life in perspective. I don’t mind wearing a mask or washing my hands or being socially distant. It’s better than living in a world where giant mutated animals try to eat you or having to reside in a domed habitat because a deadly, noxious gas that has killed everything on the planet. I’ll count my blessings and take one day at time. It could always be a lot worse…

The final page of this issue was a bit of a shocker and it has me looking forward to the next issue. I love a good mystery and I’m curious to know if the McCleans survived and if they did, how it was possible.

Nuclear Family #2 will be released on March 31, 2021. Here is a link to the solicitation for the next issue.