Following a horrific accident, a young girl named Vess is tossed into the vacuum of space, where she is saved by a giant telepathic tardigrade. And then things get even weirder.
This first issue was a trip! To writer Delilah S. Dawson’s credit, the tone is suitably bizarre and alien, as our young heroine is thrust into a wider universe beyond her understanding. The humor mostly works, though there are a few bits that feel a little too silly, particularly in terms of a certain characters’ use of outdated slang — which will presumably be explained in future issues.
On the design front, Star Pig excels. While the spaceship from Earth has a very practical design, almost resembling one of our present day commercial airplanes, the interior of the alien craft on which she is taken aboard feels cold and distant, utilitarian at best. Even with his obsession with human culture, it appears that the sentient spore cloud known as Johnny B. Goode has no use for our species’ creature comforts. This is just one of the many fine design details in Francesco Gaston’s artwork.
The lead character’s design is clean and simple, with a few unique flourishes to give us an idea of her personality. Less clearly has a sense of style somewhat different from her peers, as evidenced by what little we get to see of the rest of them. The fact that she seems to be loner but is still interested in academics sets Vess up to be a character of interesting contradictions.
Her new companion, the titular “space pig,” is almost the polar opposite in terms of design, appearing almost upsettingly biologically accurate. There’s something oddly adorable about this giant tardigrade, who seems to be just as confused and put out as Vess. In terms of Johnny B. Goode’s design, he looks slightly different from page to page, befitting a gaseous being like himself.
Sebastian Cheng continues to prove himself to be a master when it comes to coloring whimsical tales like this one. Everything has its own light and sense of tone. The sequences in the vacuum are horrific and cold, with different grays and blues used to great effect.
Where the issue falters a bit, besides some of the jokes not quite landing, is the sparse characterization of Vess herself. We almost get more of her personality from her body language and design than we do from anything she says or does. Some of this is due to the fact that she’s so lost, caught up in circumstances beyond her understanding.
However, we don’t even learn her name in this issue (I had to check the solicits for this miniseries). With much of the setup taken care of in this issue, I hope that this is a concern that will be addressed in later installments. Otherwise, this is a really fun and quick read with some fun dialogue and beautiful artwork.