In post-apocalyptic Louisiana, a fiery, feminine fusion of Ash Campbell and Lara Croft blows the head off another wild Crawgator. Written by Victor Gishler and illustrated by Tazio Bettin, Sally of the Wasteland is a hysterical and bloody ride through a setting that epitomizes an atomic holocaust. Though it may lose itself at times, a beautiful art design ironically paired with gratuitous and raunchy dialogue washes this piece of only enough bayou sludge to keep the comic approachable.
Just another day at Bottom Feeders, a pub frequented by the eponymous femme fatale; her aggressively-guarded love interest, Tommy; and the grotesque crew of perverse Captain Sam. Life rolls on as normal as it can in the wake of nuclear fallout, until the arrival of a wounded treasure hunter, Kat, and her holographic map propel the ragtag group of adventurers toward the heart of a city long lost to pirates, mutant cannibals and radioactive fungi: New Orleans. What follows is a journey of intrigue, ultra-violence and more than a few dick jokes.
Sally of the Wasteland fosters a kind of grit and gratuity that often grows destabilized as narratives such as this progress. The tale is wise enough to keep it from taking itself too seriously while at the same time injecting just the right amount of human sentiment to keep the comic away from jarring sappiness.
As the title may imply, a heroine assumes center stage within the text. That being said, it grows increasingly difficult to tell whether or not Gishler favors empowerment or hyper-sexualization (probably both). Again, the frequency of female nudity paired with the featured women’s combat prowess seems to convolute this a bit further. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Gishler conjures a story with dual narrative that, perhaps unintentionally, hints at a notion that proves imperative to The Wasteland as a whole.
After utter cataclysm, what remains of Louisiana is thrown into social and cultural disarray, where cannibalism, rape and death are about as common as can be. In this discombobulated state, norms are all but completely forgotten: Pillaging without any economic gain runs rampant; humanity straddles the threshold of quite literally consuming itself; and most importantly, the feminine has decapitated any notion of patriarchal authority. However, this leads to more than a few confusing encounters. Such is the case with Sally who, despite easily neutralizing hoards of monsters, pirates and super mutants, falls to the classic, chivalrous stereotype of female emotional dependence upon a man. Tommy, in contrast, rarely provides any pivotal support, coming off as transparent and relatively one-dimensional. Appropriately, the catalyst for this bizarre series of events is the far-off chance at another go of a normal, non-irradiated community. Funny how a tale of guts, tits and shrapnel could yield something more complex, eh?
At the end of it all, Sally of the Wasteland is heavily entertaining, and the few troubling aspects are far outweighed by beautiful art design and some deceptively intricate critical meat. Similarly, the trade is difficult to put down when the Crawgators begin lurking. Grab a shotgun a float down this river.