The Mayflower is no more and her crew must make due with a badly damaged base station on Venus, perhaps the most inhospitable of the rocky planets. Will they find a way to survive, and is it good?
Venus #2 (BOOM! Studios)
Hey, where’d that depressing robot go? Regardless, our heroic (or maybe just imperialistic) adventurers seem to be SOL on this new new world, as the roof’s blown off their habitat, nothing will grow in the Venusian soil, and there’s much more seismicity than anyone anticipated. I wonder if that’s a flaw in earthborn science, or if something else is going on ….
The team more or less simmers things down for now, but suspicion is raised as to the origin of their ship’s destruction. Man, if they thought THAT explosion screwed them, wait until … well, just read the issue.
Is It Good?
The contrast in tone and degree of emotional connection between the first two issues of this four issue mini-series is like night and day. There’s no tangential dialogue about maintaining systems, there’s some great character work in the form of “h-mail” messages meant to send to Earth if the crew members don’t make it, and we even get some genuinely funny humor and touching moments as the Captain asserts herself and figures out who can be trusted.
Unfortunately, there’s still one more bizarre plot hiccup, as the huge thing that’s been threatening the crew since the end of #1 is tidied up off-panel while the Captain takes a nap in sick bay. The bombed-out base looks more like Epcot Center by the time she wakes up, and everyone is as calm and coiffed as yuppies at an oxygen bar.
And about that oxygen—why does the molecular chemical formula have a superscript “2” instead of a subscript? I’m sure that’s the letterer’s mistake, but come on! Writer Rick Loverd is the Program Director for the National Academy of Science’s Science and Entertainment Exchange! If you want better science in fiction, man, victory begins at home!
All half-kidding aside, there are some neat shout-outs to current rover technology and a couple other concepts in Venus #2, but the planet is still the most overshadowed character in the cast. It’s less irritating than in the debut issue, though, since the other, human characters are so much better defined. The story really starts coming together here, but it’s a little weird that the obvious foreshadowing of devastating events pays off before we even get to #3. At least you’ll have to buy the next one now, if you want to see how our heroes can possibly overcome.
The art in Venus #2 is also dramatically improved. Gone are the colorform-inspired figure outlines, and Huang Danlan converts on the chances he takes with panel layouts. Colorist Marcio Menyz does a nice job of illustrating different lighting environments using the reflections from space helmets.
Venus #2 is the beginning of an impressive turnaround for a series that started out rocky. The character work is orders of magnitude better than in issue #1 and the plot thankfully diverges from the most cliché of sci-fi tropes, although that does occasionally still lead to some baffling decisions. The pencils and colors are leagues ahead of what was previously presented, too. It’s great to see that unlike with the Mayflower, the early damage to the good ship Venus was not irreparable.