Scout’s Honor Review
Scout’s Honor is a post-apocalyptic story from AfterShock Comics with its lore based in merit badges, while the horrifying trek through the Colorado Badlands where mutated insects roam is only a fraction of the dangers that lie within these pages.
Scout’s Honor Volume 1 collects issues 1 through 5 and is written by David Pepose, drawn by Luca Casalanguida, colored by Matt Milla, and lettered by Carlos M. Mangual. Although this is a story within a dystopia, Pepose believes “the genre is about fighting for a better world.”
Scout’s Honor Synopsis
Kit is an incredible Ranger Scout. She is accurate with a bow and arrow, quick to figure things out, and always has her best friend Dez’s back. Unfortunately, in the world of Scout’s Honor, where the world is recovering from a nuclear war, only men are allowed to assume the role of these great protectors. It’s an abomination for anyone other than a male to be considered for the role of a Ranger Scout.
After being rescued by this very group at an early age, Kit felt that nothing more in her life made sense than to become one of these brave soul’s that rescued her and her father. Fast forward a few years and we see that Kit has excelled within the ranks, despite her gender being hidden from everyone other than her father. After a routine reconnaissance mission goes awry, Kit finds herself alone and in danger of becoming nothing more than a worshiped memory within the “Great Arboretum,” a place where those who worship the sacred text of the “Ranger Scout Survival Handbook” end up after death.
Instead, Kit avoids death, discovers an awful truth, and must decide whether or not her life has meaning. Although she’s always had to keep her gender a secret, she has to also absorb the pressures associated with learning a falsehood that surrounds the community as a whole. Does she ignore what she’s learned or does she try to further understand what she’s been told to better know whether or not the life she’s been living is a lie or not?
Scout’s Honor features Exceptional Storytelling
David Pepose is an exceptional storyteller. Scout’s Honor does not deviate from his amazing skillset that has brought a dystopian nightmare where the world has been torn asunder. The world is in chaos after devastating nuclear blasts, and the lasting effect comes from those who are meant to take control beyond those detonations.
Pepose wonderfully crafts a world where the “sky has fallen,” and the only hope is to follow the sage wisdom of those who have been placed in power to protect everyone in the new world. There’s comfort in knowing that there’s a sense of belonging, especially when the Badlands doesn’t leave much to the imagination; if you don’t take care and protect yourself, you might be crushed by a gigantic, mutated boar. If you’re born into a world like this, why would you question anything differently?
Scout’s Honor is layered in such a way where flashbacks provide depth of character, offering the historical significance behind the main character’s motivations. Pepose also does an amazing job at producing the history of this broken world, while establishing what characters must do to survive within it.
Filled with dangerous landscapes where the Ranger Scouts train, there isn’t any time to linger on what might’ve been when people die. If they’re dead, the only question that remains is if you will be next or live to see another day. There is a significant skill associated with telling this story where there is a balance between what’s right, versus what a character must do or say to stay within those boundaries of acceptance.
Scout’s Honor drips with an Expert Balance of Light and Dark tones
The artwork for this trade paperback enhances the dystopian feel where darkness seems to overwhelm the good of light. There’s a grittiness and depth of shadows that presents this story in a way that allows the reader to become fully enveloped within this post-apocalyptic world. Dark backgrounds can highlight main characters or sequences in some panels, while an even color palate in others also has the capacity to properly address the gravity of the situation, whether it be an intense conversation or fight scene.
The story of Scout’s Honor drips with a balance of light and dark tones that represent the struggles of life and death, which we are able to see when Kit is rescued at an early age or avoids gunfire during her role as a Ranger Scout; one panel highlights death with fire, while being blasted in the shadows is another example of how light and dark are intertwined throughout.
There are a variety of daytime scenes where characters’ fight within balanced tones, while indoor sequences are buried in darkness only lit by nearby windows, hallways, or computer monitors. This back and forth provides an incredible level of suspense at times, knowing that so much is happening at once. There’s always a sense of something happening behind the scenes, despite not knowing what that might be initially.
Additionally, readers get an inside look into Scoutmaster Thomas Shepherd, the leader of the duplicitous Scouts. Not only is this a great storytelling moment where you can further understand some of Shepherd’s thoughts in his journal, you get to see what each merit badge looks like and what they stand for. This four-page section is a wonderful addition for anyone wanting to learn more about what the Ranger Scouts are hoping to achieve during their struggles to possibly reach its highest honor: the Eagle’s Guard. These journal pages and the Ranger Scout merit badges have a fun feel to them, while offering further context to the story.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cover artwork. Andy Clarke and Jose Villarrubia perfectly capture the interior pages within one image. The art for issue 2 is one of my favorite covers from 2021 and once you realize what is happening and how it plays out within the pages, it adds a layer of emotion that hits you in the gut when you see it. Another stellar component is how they repurpose the cover art within. On each of the credits’ page, a portion of the cover hangs at the top of the page, featuring a brownish-orange tint. It’s a wonderful use of space and seeing the artwork in a different hue is fantastic.
Scout’s Honor hits all the right notes for Dystopian Lovers
Scout’s Honor is perfect for dystopian lovers!
If you’re a fan of comics like Undiscovered Country or novels like The Hunger Games, where the country is reshaped and filled with mutations, then this will be right up your alley. It’s no requirement to have any association with Boy or Girl Scouts to enjoy this story. Any details you think you might need are all provided for you and it’s easy to follow along.
The creators of Scout’s Honor have put something together that proves there are unique stories out there, and they can be told exceedingly well within the pages of a comic book. With this particular comic book story, it amplifies the message that women are fearless, exceptionally gifted at combat, and can outthink the best of them. Kit’s resilience seems to fall on her preparedness for each moment as they come.
If you love a good story that’s easy to follow, with an amazing protagonist who has to hide from within, and then tackle the patriarchy, then pick up a copy of Scout’s Honor in print or digital form.
Want more Graphic Novel reviews?
1. The Old Guard Volume 1 Blends Chaos with Soul Searching
2. The Best Way to Store Comic Books
3. REVIEW: Possessive #1 is a Romantic Comedy of Spooky Implications
4. REVIEW: The Eighth Immortal #1 Is Exactly How An Indie Comic Should Look and Feel