A few weeks ago, I had my first taste of the wave of Apocalypse Weird novels to be released next week in the form of Nick Cole and Michael Bunker’s Texocalypse Now. The book has some great moments and sets up a lot, but I was really unprepared for the quality of stories I would find in the other three AW stories not written by Cole or Bunker. The following is my review for TN, but over the next few days I’ll share reviews for Jennifer Ellis’ Reversal, E.E. Giorgi’s Immunity, and Chris Pourteau’s The Serenity Strain in addition to my thoughts on the first sequel in the AW Universe — Nick Cole’s The Dark Knight.
There have been some early comparisons between the Apocalypse Weird series and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most of us are familiar with how Marvel is expanding their comic books with tales on the Silver Screen in the form of Iron Man, Captain America, The Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy. While that familiarity may not be present in the Apocalypse Weird series, the analogy is appropriate nonetheless, especially when it comes to the Nick Cole/Michael Bunker novel, Texocalypse Now. And that familiarity will come in time if the quality of the stories in AW continues like it does in this novel.
A huge part of constructing the Marvel movies is telling an engaging story while advancing potential threads that can branch off into different plotlines for future movies. For example, Captain America’s shield was seen in Tony Stark’s lab in Iron Man 2 and Thanos was seen in a post-credits scene of The Avengers – both of which helped to set up future stories and villains.
I don’t think many would say The Avengers didn’t deliver as a stand-alone movie, yet it laid the groundwork for potentially dozens of future movies. That’s because Marvel went in with a plan and made sure certain threads were maintained and manicured throughout the editing process.
The same is true of Texocalypse Now. After The Red King, it serves as one of the next in a wave of AW stories to be released in February, and by being in that wave, it needs to serve two functions – be a wicked-awesome story (check), and further the overall mythology of AW (check).
We’ll get back to the overall mythos in a bit, but let’s take a look at what Cole and Bunker did here.
It’s an apocalypse story, so we need at least one apocalyptic event, and the authors take care of that with the Blindness — a moment when the entire world went dark, causing madness in most people. Combine that with zombie hordes who scour the earth after taking the weight-loss drug, Slenderex, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster and Mad Max-type scenarios.
In the wake of this, a family comes together. Not one of blood, but of circumstance, that has a bond forged by violence. To save themselves, they turn to a series of tunnels under the ground — tunnels put there years before for a different purpose (which is a fascinating side story that deserves a book of its own). As the book progresses, the action ramps up, powered by an evil figure: Mayhem.
Even as all of this happens, Cole and Bunker make sure to plant seeds for future installments of Apocalypse Weird books. Not all of those seeds are blatantly obvious, but just like in the Marvel Universe, they are important and play a key role in the proceedings.
Texocalypse Now stands perfectly on its own and is an exciting, powerful book. But, when you look at it as part of the AW series, it works tremendously well and will be an important book to read for anyone interested in the Apocalypse Weird novels. I thoroughly enjoyed the Cole-Bunker collaboration and hope to see more from the two in the future.