Writers: Luke Arnold and Chris “Doc” Wyatt
Interior Artists: Jason Howard, Vince Locke, Glenn Fabry, Andrea Mutti, M.K. Perker, and DaNi
Colorists: Brad Simpson, Wesley Wong, and Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: DC Hopkins of Andworld Design
Book Design, Logo: Emma Price
Cover Artists: Bill Sienkiewicz, Glenn Fabry w/colorist Jordie Bellaire, and Jason Howard
Publisher: The Lab Press

If you’re going to try to enter the comics industry as a new publisher these days (a relatively dicey time to do so, by most metrics), you may as well do it with strong and interesting comics made by name creators. This seems to be the guiding strategy of The Lab Press, which has its first graphic novel — Essentials funding on Kickstarter right now.

And I recently had a chance to read the book for review, ahead of its wider release. Essentials marketing material describes it as an ambitious sci-fi epic that spans 140 pages and includes work by a number of different creators. Going in, I wasn’t sure how the book would move between that last bit, but one of the first things that struck me here is that despite the artists having (in some cases wildly) different styles, their art styles serve the plot. Yes, the aesthetic variety in Essentials is a natural effect of what’s happening on the page, which is a really nice thing that makes the book feel not just coherent, but more interesting.

It helps that the artists are all so good. Jason Howard does the most pages of the bunch, and, to an extent, this feels like his book, if you need to think of it that way. Quantity aside, his sequences also feel like a foundation for the other work here. And Howard is great, a fantastic storyteller who is capable of high action and complicated sci-fi. In Essentials, reality itself has become sort of malleable and dangerous, leaving only a precious few in existence. As the lead character navigates between the others who are left, he gets swept into their own spins on reality, and the art adjusts accordingly.

It’s a lot of fun, and it the pacing is fantastic. Emmy-winning writer Chris “Doc” Wyatt (Rocket and Groot) teams with actor/novelist Luke Arnold (of the also Emmy-winning show, Black Sails). The duo pen one of those sci-fi books that seems to start from a point of real science, or if not real real, than at least of a theory, before going off into wilder, more comic book-y spaces…which is where our artists get to shine.


I read the book cover to cover once I’d started it. It’s fun and immersive and (obviously) a real page turner. And if that’s not enough, it also has a poignant thought at is core about the value of a well-lived life, one that grounds the sci-fi craziness and gives us some nice moments (particularly near the ending). If this is indicative of the other work that The Lab Press has coming, than the future is bright. Overall, Essentials is an interesting read with fantastic art, and shiny big swing for a brand-new comics publisher.

Essentials is funding on Kickstarter now.

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