The writer might have been slightly bogged down writing what he knows in terms of the conflict present in the protagonist with his father. Possibly injecting some of his own experiences whether his own or others, because much of the statements made were borderline archaic and needed more substance and was in danger of keeping these characters extremely flat.
Thankfully this was not ever-present and was mostly a minor issue in the dialog between Admiral Ryan and his son Thomas; also apparent in the conversation with his mother.
The story takes a large focus centered around a cold war brewing between Earth’s varied countries and a unified alien fleet over planetary mining colonies and who is in control of said territories.
An idealistic Admiral is caught in the middle as he has to deal with his oft rebellious son and send him into the military academy to aid him in his growth. While none of this is part of the “Ugly” the manner in which Admiral Ryan speaks irks me to no avail. I had trouble trying to understand if his ‘breaking’ character as a capable Admiral who is in full control of a potential Earth Alliance Fleet, in the face of War, is due to a parent’s inability to separate their real life and children from their work.
While I can see an understandable breakdown in a mans behavior over their teenager, it is hard to imagine someone of such a position to crack so easily or to revert to a less authoritative style of speech. This aspect didn’t feel all to natural.
There are also moments where our protagonist, Thomas Ryan, our Admirals son, has very awkward conversations with his mother that are either going to allow you to wonder if this character is indeed incapable of being independent or if it’s the writers way of trying to humanize this particular family. It’s hard to gauge the difference and for that reason I place my gripe with the strength of some of the dialog in this section of my review. Because it’s an Indie Comic, it can be judged more harshly by those that may not necessarily be so in tune with human psychology. Eventhough I give the writer the benefit of the doubt, because this aspect is enthralling; I can see how many other readers will be lost in the mishima of attempted humanization of the characters while trying to wrap their head around the amazing intrigue swelling into the story at this point. Which is something I wanted it, being the story, to get back to.
”The Khutarri will be no match for the Russian Fighters.”
I absolutely love that the story does not justify a complete world order on Earth. I love that it is seemingly building toward a unified Earth (at least one of the characters is hopeful); however, I love that we get to see Earth as it would most likely be in the future; were we to already be colonizing space. It shows a very petty and gritty face of our possible future. Not a dystopian, apocalyptic situation that has been abused as subject matter, as of late, in everything we read. Even if the story eventually unfolds into sections of Earth being annihilated… The portrait this story has already painted of our planet makes so much sense I want to make popcorn and sip on my extremely sweet fountain soda while I read this comic as if it were a summer blockbuster film. Because of how easily the writer has made it for my mind to visualize this possible future and how well the artist brought that concept to life. The characters (so far) that have been introduced gave me a semblance, for a moment, of a prior science fiction novel - Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, from back in the late 50's.
While we are not, so far as I can tell, dealing with giant insects, the concept of the protagonist is there in a very natural form. A rebel, an upstart, a troubled teen that ultimately wants to do the right thing. Someone that we don't realize we all mostly identify with on some level or another.
Russian Federation 4th Independent Attack Squadron
The Art, the art, did I say the art? Olivent consistently captures the right grimaces and facial ticks that make for great story telling. Not only that he's illustrated a picturesque new world that isn't trying to be anything more than what it is. While the colors are not so vibrant, the subdued color palette that Ward put in place poignantly brings this universe to life.
The intrigue and backroom politics running concurrently with the struggles the Ryan's are facing within their family is a wonderful balance of perspective from two opposing factions where no direct evil is truly apparent. You can side on either end and make a great argument for aggressor versus victim.
You are early on confronted with questions about the Khutarri. You are also confronted early on with the curiosity of how and when did we start exploring space. Why are we mining this material and why do we have a tenuous treaty with this alien race. All of which are answered directly if not in context with enough new questions to keep you wanting to read more.
Aside from the awkward image of a student throwing a kick while being explained it's part of a Jiu Jitsu technique, the flow of art (as movement) is fluid and beautifully done in a manner that feels like it is coming off the page. Olivent places a lot of attention to detail in a variety of areas that were exceptionally nice touches to the background, as well as the foreground, without having to feel the need for excessive uses of defined outlines on every image on the page (sorry mouthful). Allowing for a nice flow of background to foreground movement from one page to the next.
What Might Have Hurt This Indie Comic Experience…
Like any Indie Comic, it is attempting to do a lot in its first issue, but I do not think it is hurting itself blowing such a proverbial load in its first outing. I think it generates enough political controversy and poses a variety of enthralling questions. Some asked, some unspoken. In general, it will be the ability of the writer to span the story across an emerging war while maintaining part of the air that makes it so thrilling. The fact that Earth is a place with many factioned peoples. More fixated on corporate and government wealth than it is with its said people (much like today).
The relationship between Thomas and his father is also far too laborious in nature even if it's a celebrated aspect of story telling. The struggle to aspire toward ones father, to stand on your own two feet and discover your path in life. It adds elements of the much kicked-dead-horse of teenage angst and the varietal behaviors one suffers in the throws of hormonal discord.
While the bulk of the book has many small attention-to-detail aspects there are parts of the artwork that seem like the artist was ready to move on and could have given it more thought or detail. Sections like Page 13 where Fussa, Japan is displayed, the detailing was too homogenous and needed to be fleshed out more, as one example. Where the general consistency of the art is there in some locations as stated above while not terrible, it can be seen as rushed instead of completed and fully fleshed out.
As a science fiction piece I wish I had permission from Future Earth Ent. to give out as many copies as possible because it should be read. This is what good sci-fi can be like. As a comic book entry it is an excellent start to a great series that needs a little work to be absolutely great. Because of its awkward and (oft times) juvenile reading moments between father, son and mother it throws me off track toward the overall goal of their story.
It does not completely flesh out the Khutarri, which I appreciated and only illuminates some perspective through contextual clues. While very plainly demonstrating who we are as a people in a very un-idealistic and almost pragmatic manner.
In search of great sci-fi to read this is a great piece. I think the author may be subconsciously influenced by his own life in the dealings with his protagonist (a concept I mentioned to Mr. Fields prior to writing this review). In search of great new Indie entries this one has so much promise I am eagerly awaiting its next issue. I think Future Earth just needs an extra pair of eyes at the top of their editing food chain for everything from copyediting to story balancing and oversight and they will be producing this comic into an amazing piece I could easily see optioned into an Indie film someday. One I'd happily pay a few bucks to see.
4 out of 5 Sci-Fi Comic Geeks will love it
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