It has been four and a half years since the first issue (and I reviewed it back in 2012 when ComiX Weekly was a thing!), but the science fiction elements were so grand and interesting and the art so on point that Image Comics would be nuts not to print a sequel. Ken Garing is back writing and drawing this sequel, but is it good?
Planetoid: Praxis #1 (Image Comics)
So what’s it about? The summary reads:
SERIES PREMIERE PLANETOID PRAXIS is the long-anticipated sequel to the popular 2012 miniseries PLANETOID. The inhabitants of a distant planetoid have fought off their robot overlords and established a thriving settlement on the planetoid’s mechanized surface. Now, years later, their de facto leader, Onica, must grapple with a new complication when their isolated way of life is threatened by the arrival of an unexpected visitor!
Why does this book matter?
Aside from the original five issue series being fantastic (and well worth your time–seek it out!) this is a science fiction world very much worth visiting. Garing has visually fleshed it out in a way that’s just not done anymore. The mechanics of ships and the world look as if they work under their own rules. The world is inescapable as aliens attempt to live abandoned, as if trapped on an island.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
One of the reasons I love Garing’s work is because he’s fully aware with the right visual storytelling the reader welcomes slower pacing. The first few pages of this issue have a strange alien land on a planet and walk about its intricate metallic surface. Without any words Garing conveys the alien’s personality, by their tentative nature walking on a thin beam and the care they give random lizards. You get the sense of them via body language and visuals, but you also get a sense of how the world is made up. It’s a perilous surface even though it appears to be made of very purposeful metal structures. Like a great adventurer exploring America, he’s not truly in danger until he encounters other intelligent life forms.
The story here doesn’t force feed the characters you know from the first series, but instead writes this as if you hadn’t read it at all. The characters quickly prove they may not be as heroic as we remember, though to survive you must be brutal in your nature too. Onica is the main character, and while she must make a hard choice, she’s just as badass as ever. You can see it in her body language as well. An important choice must be made–which includes some great flashes to reveal how dangerous the people are–and it most likely will have grave consequences.
Garing seems to be toying with the idea of reversing the threat levels of Planetoid. In the first volume the threat was on the planet itself and since it was impossible to escape the danger was everywhere always. Now that the characters have relaxed a bit, the new threat appears to be anything off the planet. Science fiction has a way of reflecting society and Garing appears to be doing a good job of it here. The message is clear, that we fear outsiders and those we don’t understand, and how we act in result of interacting with them is more important than we might think.
The art is often great. The detailed structures of the planet and its metal tubes and structures are grandiose and gorgeous. The characters are easy to read and their body language as important as facial expressions. The children are spot on too. So often artists struggle to make them look realistic and consistent, but here Garing does well no matter the panel. His ability to make aliens, however grotesque they may look, to be sympathetic and relatable is impressive. Another hard thing to do!
It can’t be perfect can it?
While the general premise is strong and understandable, I was left wondering what could possibly come next. The bigger picture is yet to be revealed as well as clear sense of how the politics between tribes works either. There are hints, but no assertions, which left me wanting more.
The technology seems to have a purpose and make sense.
Is It Good?
Science fiction has a new leader for #1 lists of 2017. Much like its original series I was left pondering the characters, the world, and their situation. Garing has a series I’m already prepared to buy on sight. This is science fiction that’s deeply meaningful and captivating.