One of the more politically charged science fiction dramas on comics is back this week and we couldn’t be more excited. Ken Garing explained to us how important political commentary can be in science fiction and given this series so far it’s hitting a lot of great notes. Plus it looks gorgeous, but is it good?
Planetoid: Praxis #3 (Image Comics)
So what’s it about? The official summary reads:
Onica enters the Heliocor compound and learns about the plans of the planetoid’s new “owners.” Meanwhile, tensions grow at The Settlement, culminating in a mysterious and deadly attack!
Why does this book matter?
Aside from the intriguing political commentary via fantasy world, Garing has delivered a deeply realistic tale here. This spin-off does well to continue Onica’s story, but also develop new characters in interesting ways. So far each issue has been great and the third shouldn’t be too far off the mark.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A little war and past crimes forgotten eh?
This issue delivers in a few surprising ways: it picks up where the last issue left off, but then sprouts from there as Onica learns about what has happened outside of Planetoid since being marooned there when she was 7. Garing delves a bit into the politics of the galaxy and it’s clear the mass murdering race has been reigned in and forgiven. Garing captures the unfair nature of politics between nations and how, even when directly affected by a people, as long as they make nice on a geopolitical scale horrific acts can be forgiven. Clearly Onica and her people have survived on sheer will and cunning and it’s clear they live a simpler life these new outsiders will assuredly destroy. Garing explores this a bit later in the issue when her daughter shows up with chemical filled snacks.
Good character work is done with Nkunda who explains to Onica’s son who his dad was (who happens to be the hero of the first Planetoid series). This helps the reader relate to Nkunda and effectively make a tragic act more painful to bare later in the issue. There’s also a nice historical video sequence that sheds light on a mute race of aliens further fleshing out the world. These more character centric moments help make the entire read feel fleshed out and satisfying even when the bigger picture story progresses nicely too.
The art continues to be a highlight with this series. The gritty and broken down world looks perfect and helps set the stage for the cultural whitewashing that’s assuredly to come. A flashback to Nkunda’s life before Planetoid also captures a sense of imagination and wonder from this unique science fiction world. By the end of this issue I wanted to know a hell of a lot more about the universe Garing is creating. There’s also a nice appendix that shows a map of the Slab to better understand Onica’s territory and its relation to the foreigners.
This sounds familiar.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Strangely, Onica doesn’t get much of the page time when it comes to character work. She continues to serve as a leader to her people, but remains more a cog to serve progressing the bigger plot.
Is It Good?
Another excellent issue in a science fiction series you owe yourself to check out. Any self respecting science fiction fan should dig the world Garing is developing and the political commentary that’s sewn in as well.