The premise to Skyward is probably one of my favorites this year; the story takes place in a world much like ours where suddenly one day gravity ceases to exist. The use of gravity as a narrative device isn’t often explored (the exception being in space fiction) but I’ve always thought it’s a great metaphor for life and the feeling of being weighed down by it. While Skyward‘s first issue isn’t perfect, it definitely opens up a wide world to explore and has great potential for meaningful and human storytelling.
The creative team of Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett are most well known for their work on different incarnations of Vertigo’s Lucifer. Henderson runs the television show version of Lucifer, whereas Garbett was the artist on the most recent series. It’s two very different versions of the same character, but somehow the creators’ tangential connection makes it seem like they could work together very well. I haven’t watched the Lucifer television series, but I did really enjoy Garbett’s work on the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series as well as Loki: Agent of Asgard. His art is very loose and adds a great deal of fluidity to its subject, which is perfect for a series about gravity or the lack thereof.
The nitty gritty of the plot is somewhat left out of this first issue. We know the main character Willa is feeling tied down to Chicago, where she and her overprotective father have lived since “G-Day.” We know her father had something to do with the lack of gravity on Earth, but the extent of which we have no idea. Overall, this first issue is light on plot, and serves more to give the readers a feel for the world Willa inhabits. I really liked the gag at the beginning where one of Willa’s younger friends points at a crosswalk sign and comments on how she doesn’t know what it means. The schematics of this world are totally unique despite the fact that it’s set in a very real present day America that just happens to lack gravity. The way in which this is all presented to us is great and never feels like needless exposition.
I only wish there had been more of a feel for the characters and important plot points. This issue felt like it went by VERY quickly, and not in the “I’m enjoying myself so much I didn’t want it to end” way but in the “not much happens” way. Willa is a likeable enough character that feels youthful without being annoying. The rest of the characters don’t have much to do, but I did enjoy her interactions with her coworker at the delivery service she works for, and I really hope he ends up being an important character. Her father sort of feels like a retread of the secretive overprotective father trope, but as this is the first issue, I hope he can be fleshed out in the future.
Skyward #1 boasts a great premise and an unique world that is based enough in reality to not seem unrelatable. The only drawback is a lack of exposition in the issue. I know that seems like the opposite of what people usually complain about in a first issue, but I really did want to get more an idea for where the story is going and how it’s going to get there. It’s a promising debut that, if the creative team plays their cards right, could turn out to be a great series about humanity in zero g.