Sci-fi maestro Zack Kaplan’s ‘Break Out’ offers a tantalizing read in the form of a prison break out—interdimensional style.
I’m hard pressed to say anything nicer about the Break Out TPB, than what so many other reviewers have already. Breakout by (W) Zac Kaplan (Mindset, Join The Future, Forever Forward), (A) Wilton Santos, (C) Jason Wordie, and (L) Jim Campbell is Dark Horse Comics‘ latest sci-fi adventure, available Apr 12th in trade paperback form.
“Kaplan has zeroed in on the existential crises of today, and Santos and Wordie bring the book’s complex cast of endangered–but fiercely driven–young people to vivid life.” -Steve Foxe (All Eight Eyes, Razorblades, X-Men ‘92, Party & Prey).
It’d be too easy to make comparisons to famous heist movies like Ocean’s Eleven, or National Treasure. So I won’t. Because Break Out hits so many more check boxes for a riveting drama than just calling it a “heist story”.
Aliens have landed on Earth and are kidnapping young people between the ages of 11-20; but only that age range. And taken up to mysterious cube spaceships parked a mile high in the sky. Located all over the planet, very little is known about what exactly happens to them once inside the floating prisons. Adults attempt to resist, adults attempt to plead and bargain, adults attempt to attack. But in the end, pragmatism begins to rear its ugly head as adults accept they cannot do anything about it. They move on, then adjust how they live their lives. Accepting that the abduction of their children is normal.
For our main protagonist Liam, his own personal revolution starts when his brother Tommy joins the ranks of the abducted. His first reaction to this traumatic event is to bury all of his pain and retreat inside of himself. A very emotional and reactive person, Liam forces himself through his daily life and scoffs at other students protesting. Offered a sign exclaiming, “Together we’re unbreakable”, Liam replies, “I feel safer already…”, in a mocking fashion. After arriving at home, his mother exclaims “You got into Carnegie!”. The only thing Liam can manage to respond with, is that the money offered to fund his tuition, is earmarked for his brother Tommy.
It’s time to get busy and put in that work.
Fully disconnected from life around him, Liam doesn’t begin to see the light until he realizes, to make change fully happen, he has to do it himself. He grew up sharing his father’s passions in star gazing, engineering, and most importantly, heist movies. Liam, using the money that his mother had set aside for Tommy’s education, purchases an indestructible robot off the dark web; the same indestructible robot that the aliens have been using to abduct the children.
With his old friend Omar, he begins to plan a heist of his own. This starts with reprogramming the robot to take them to the aliens’ fortress in the sky; a giant floating cube of metal seemingly impervious to all but the alien’s own technology. A plan is created that involves gathering a group of his friends and classmates—with very specific individual skill sets—to work together to break into an alien ship, and rescue Liam’s brother. But what happens when they get there and see prison cells filled with so many of their peers? You’ll have to pick up the Break Out TPB to find out!
Too close to home.
In Break Out, Kaplan portrays a world which is eerily similar to our own reality. Remove the aliens and replace them with COVID, with recessions, school shootings, or with natural disasters. It feels like we are living in an age where society has become jaded with the constant introduction of the next dire “threat”. This book is about jumping up and shouting “HEY! I’M NOT GOING TO ACCEPT THE BULLSHIT ANYMORE!”
Santos and Wordie’s art splash emotion, energy, and excitement all over Kaplan’s story about hope in the face of tragedy. What does the younger generation do when those that raised them start to accept a dreadful fate?
Is this a heist book? Sure. The elements are there. But this is also a book about raising a middle finger to the previous generation(s) and committing to improving that, which they have dumped on our laps. It’s up to the “kids” to save themselves while the adults sit on the sidelines and watch. The younger generation stands up to take matters into their own hands. By the end of this binge-worthy read, I was ready and motivated to get out there. To start making real change happen in a society that continues to accept tragedy as the new norm.
Editor’s note: Well if that doesn’t motivate you to pick up the Break Out TPB, then I don’t know what will. Available now.