Top Shelf: IDW. Nov. 2020. 560p. ISBN 9781603094771. pap. $29.99. Rated: Teen+. dystopian thriller
A group of criminals exiled to a penal colony in the ruins of an underground city ruled by vicious gangs finds their fates intertwined in this masterfully crafted thriller from creator Gooch (Deep Breaths). Ele is obsessed with collecting scavenged artifacts from the outside world, pragmatic Zoe focuses on day-to-day existence; after proving their prowess as burglars by committing a string of heists at the behest of a criminal overlord called the Map King, they’re offered information on how to escape in return for stealing a rare flower belonging to the Deputy Warden. Meanwhile, Malcolm, a physically imposing, introverted veteran inmate, befriends newcomer Reece and endeavors to teach him the skills he’ll need to survive. Following a series of twists and shocking betrayals, Ele and Zoe find themselves marked for death and on the run, and Malcolm is forced to compete in a series of brutal, bare-knuckle gladiatorial brawls before crowds of rowdy spectators. Gooch builds to a brutal climax before offering a deeply tender, legitimately moving denouement.
VERDICT A perfectly paced page-turning meditation on the possibility of grace from a creator who grows more impressive with every release.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing