World Comic Book Review

3rd March 2024

Finale (review)

Writer/creator: Travis Corwin

Illustrator: Phillip Ginn

November 2023

There could be a new sub-genre of science fiction called Pandemic Dystopia. We have reviewed a number of titles over the past few years which are either about or have been triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Here is another one, entitled Finale, an independent publication by Travis Corwin and Phillip Ginn.

The promotional copy for the title reads as follows:

Finale is a post-apocalyptic tale about a woman named Ása on a mission to deliver a mysterious message after all the world’s technology has died simultaneously. As the world descends into chaos, what is it that people need most, and what difference can one person make? This story will appeal to fans of The Twilight Zone and the HBO series Station Eleven, for its intriguing moral quandaries and twisty plot reveals.

Mr Corwin should be a magician. He distracts and makes us look the wrong way. We would be oblivious if he undid the clasp of our wristwatch. This story is not at all what we expected, and yet its secret sits there in the title. First, Mr Corwin and the pleasing art of Mr Ginn (which reminds us of Milo Manera’s work – a high compliment) set the stage for us: a ruined Western civilisation, caused by a complete energy failure. Mr Corwin then catches our attention with some mumbo-jumbo – “rips in space-time called antinodes” which fuel cities. Perhaps this is to explain why the country has not fallen back on solar and wind energy, or maybe it is a homage to his band of the same name (Antinodes), but it quickly becomes apparent the cause of the crisis is superfluous to the story.

The lead character, Ása, rides a horse, spreading a message amongst distrustful communities. This initially seems to be a riff on the 1997 motion picture The Postman, in which a drifter rides about delivering old mail, raising hope that the United States government has been restored. “Look, she carries a satchel and is willing to risk her life to share a message, just like Kevin Costner!” whispers Mr Corwin, fluttering a handkerchief to our left in another distraction. Ása is a Samaritan – she saves a would-be robber from death by way of a gunshot wound, and then quietly tells him her message, leaving him cheerful and smiling.

And then we have the mystery of Guy Winter. Who is Guy Winter? Is he a post-apocalyptic saviour? Is he dead or alive? Has he somehow reincarnated? Is this where the rift becomes relevant? What has Ása’s pre-disaster job as a stunt coordinator got to do with anything other than a savvy predilection for survival? Why is her audience so happy when they hear her message? And Ása’s horse is called Trigger! The tale twists like a corkscrew.

Other critics of this comic have not been kind. This story is slippery, with perhaps too much finesse for some.

Our broad policy in reviewing comics is not to preserve spoilers. Mr Corwin has implored us not to give away his trick. Very well, although that risks a reader of this critique not understanding the cleverness of Mr Corwin’s performance. We will say, though, that it culminates in a gunshot, which could be one ending, or another. What is, exactly, the final scene to Finale? It is another sleight of hand. Mr Corwin should take a bow.

(Mr Corwin’s band has produced a song to go with the comic – see Finale | Antinode (bandcamp.com) which also contains a link for purchases of the comic.)