One of the finest science fiction comic series on the shelves is back this week with a new chapter and the drama rising even higher. On a world that was once impossible to escape or enter, a corporation has set up shop nearby and made its inhabitants’ lives way more complicated; unless they fall in line and follow their directives what ever can they do?
Writer and Artist: Ken Garing
Publisher: Image Comics
So what’s it about? The official summary reads:
Unrest in the settlement culminates in an attack on Heliocor…with lethal results!
Why does this book matter?
Ken Garing understands science fiction isn’t just about awesome visuals and cool futuristic ideas; it’s also about showing our own world under a mirror in another reality. This series has done a fantastic job holding up our world in a new light so that we can better understand it. Things get a lot more violent this issue, but the world seems to be doing the same thing.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Broken down, this issue progresses three plots. The first is the community reacting to Heliocor and their taking away the sun and other stresses. The second is the familial relationships breaking down due to Heliocor offering new opportunities and new people to interact with. The third is the progress of learning about an ancient culture that has lived on the planet for possibly centuries. All three deal with change, or how change shakes things up and forces us to make hard choices. Garing does a good job plotting all three as they merge into each other which gives the book a sense of cohesiveness. Obviously, Heliocor is a major element that’s changed everything, and it’s easy to relate this corporation with so many in our own world that force people to change. By the end of the issue Garing makes a strong case that guerilla tactics make sense when a giant power can make everyone feel powerless.
Charging for the sun…wow.
While the thought provoking elements are strong in this issue, there’s also plenty of action. One could argue the sequences as asides from the meaningful elements, but they also serve as symbolic elements that suggest even when faced with a fight the powerful won’t do the fighting themselves. The heroes must go up against a killer robot–which has a cool design–that ends up flowing into a well choreographed action sequence.
The art in this series continues to be excellent, with the metallic world always leaving the reader with a striking image of endless tubes or panels in Earth tones (when outside) or cold tones (when underneath). Science fiction fans will be most interested to see what Garing does with the mysterious aliens who live on Praxis. Their design is unique–nothing you’ve seen before–and frail which conflicts with the hard edge of the world around them. There’s an odd nature to them that gives their presence, and what comes from them, an almost magical feel.
Sounds like terrorism.
It can’t be perfect can it?
At first the main character, Onical, is rather subdued and more reactive and steadfast in her actions than in previous issues (and the previous series!). The family turmoil she faces in this issue is strong, but it’s interesting how she’s taken a backseat to many of the other characters. Whether this is a story choice to allow her to swoop in later remains to be seen, but it makes her story seem weak, especially in this issue.
Is It Good?
This is another excellent installment in a series that’s very good at holding a mirror up to our world so that we can understand it better. The science fiction elements are intriguing and the familiarity of a culture being crushed by a corporation relatable. This is science fiction at its best.