The Hard SwitchThe Hard Switch

Creator: Owen D. Pomery
Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing

Review by Megan Grace

While most of us have a hard time picturing what tomorrow will bring, there are a small few who can look beyond — to a distant future — to consider what life might be like and how similar their troubles might be. Owen D. Pomery’s new graphic novel, The Hard Switch, takes us light years away to distant planets where inhabitants are on the verge of a galactic change.

Alcanite, a mineral that powers jump travel throughout the galaxy, is about to run out. People are collecting, hoarding, and salvaging every piece they can get all in preparation for the day this precious resource is gone. This change over is called “The Hard Switch”. Some people accept their fate and make due with where they’ve landed, while others try to gamble on greener pastures before they find themselves stranded with no Alcanite left to save them.

The narrative heavily focuses on the interpersonal relationship between Ada and Haika —with the occasional interjection from Mallic, their octopus mechanic — as they try to navigate the pending collapse of interplanetary contact and the new questions that arise when a strange piece of ancient metal from a long-dead group of travelers turns up on a historic shipwreck. Ada is drawn to the mystery and feels as though there might be value in exploring things further, while Haika worries about their future if they find themselves stranded.

Conceptually, The Hard Switch is an engaging delight for anyone who loves science fiction. Owen Pomery’s art style lends itself to a feeling of vastness. Though the panels are focused on our characters, the detail that goes into each scene gives the reader a feeling of scope and scale just out of sight. One of the best things about science fiction for me is seeing new and interesting ways science can theoretically work, sometimes in ways that are more wild and out there than even high fantasy can dream up. What I’m trying to say is that having the engine helmed by an octopus with a bad attitude in a tank is unique and I loved it.

The Hard Switch

However, there were a few things that were a bit sticky for me. I felt as though the dialogue and lettering held back the story in some ways and could have done with a bit more shine. While the lettering matches the art stylistically, it relies heavily on the reader to interpret intention and inflection particularly with characters whose facial expressions we don’t always get to see. Coupled with dialogue that tried to focus on voice and how people might normally communicate, I often found myself out of step with who the characters are and what their motivation is for some of their actions. This was overcome by a more focused reread, but it can be a bit jarring when you’re trying to get lost in a great sci-fi concept. 

Overall I found The Hard Switch to be a beautiful book with cool concepts, interesting characters, and a galaxy I wouldn’t mind finding myself stranded in.

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The Hard Switch is out now via Avery Hill Publishing.


  1. It was…OK. The story concepts were reasonably strong, but the plot was a little thin.

    I picked this GN up via Kickstarter and added one of Pomeroy’s other works, Victory Point, to the order. Totally different premise, not sci-fi at all, but as engrossing a read as you’ll find.

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