This week we’ve got a main review about Into The Unbeing #1. Plus, the Wednesday Comics Team has its usual rundown of the other new #1s, finales and other notable issues from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below … enjoy!

into the unbeing #1Into The Unbeing #1

Writer: Zac Thompson
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Review by Michael Kurt

Ecofiction is a genre of fiction that has roots in the 1970s. But for me, Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy of books was when I started to notice the larger prospect of what Ecofiction could be — it’s my tentpole into the genre that, unbeknownst to me, has been capturing the moment we’ve been living through in strange and impactful ways for decades. Then, with things like the fantastically animated and written Scavengers Reign animated series, the genre expands further and reaches more people. Now, the new comic Into The Unbeing enters the conversation.

Set in Australia in 2035, we follow a team of climate scientists exploring an ecosystem on assignment. Sent out by the Scientific Institute for Nascent Ecology and Worlds (SINEW) to map new territories and explore what remains after a mass extinction event, the group suddenly encounters a novel geological event that both surprises and perplexes them.

As a newly-revitalized genre, Ecofiction is settling into what requirements need to be met for a work to be considered “in genre.” But the easiest way to understand it quickly is: the non-human world is more than a location, but has a system of its own working outside of human impact and the work must, in some way, tackle the human impact on ecology as an ethical question. There are more definitions, and variances, of course. But I think it’s interesting to look at Into The Unbeing with this lens and then consider the plot.

After the novel geological event – -an unknown terrain has appeared suddenly after what they originally thought might be a rather large earthquake–the team of scientists trek off to explore. What they discover, along with many strange things, is that this new place (or thing) is much, much more than what they originally thought. In Part 1 of Into The Unbeing, the reader is introduced to the team and very quickly what they are up against. It rings of Alien, but in a way that I find satisfying. I know what could happen, if we follow the outline of Alien. But it most certainly takes a turn by the end and becomes its own thing. The characters are not trapped on their vessel with something, but have gone out and entered something new.

Written by Zac Thompson, with artwork and colors by Hayden Sherman, Into the Unbeing is a beautiful comic. It manages to stretch the Moebius-esque starkness of a large open desert with bright colors and unfamiliar (but somehow still eerily family) topologies. The narrative consistency, which passes through a voice over from the captain, to dialogue, and then into a personal journal from the captain, drives home the lost and sometimes forewarning perspective of our guidepost through the story. This is thanks to the wonderful lettering work done by Jim Campbell, who manages to keep the tone consistent throughout the different levels of interactions.

At the end of Part 1, there are many questions. A backstory that needs to be filled in, a current timeline that finds our characters in an ecological mystery, and someone from the team is missing…

Godzilla: Skate or Die #1

Writer & Artist: Louie Joyce
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: IDW Publishing

Review by Jordan Jennings

Synopsis: Godzilla: Skate or Die #1 is the day in the life of a local skate gang. Their day is spent talking about skate tricks, their favorite skate spot- the abandoned steel works turned into underground skate park: The Coin Toss. See to Egg and his fiends Sushi, Jules, and Rolly, skating is a way of life. While on a school trip, things go awry as Godzilla and another kaiju are set on a collision course with the projected battle site being the Coin Toss. 

Godzilla: Skate or Die #1 exudes style and personality. I have been captivated by this comic ever since I first saw the house ads months ago. The premise is a bit different than your typical Godzilla comic with the focus being on a group of skaters, but as with most Godzilla stories, the people are the real interesting aspect. Truthfully, Godzilla is a perfect blank canvas for a lot of genre fiction given how often he represents a force of nature that is beyond control. He is the perfect catalyst for any story and one about saving your local DIY Skate Park is no exception. 

Artist/Writer, Louie Joyce crafts a stylish world and cast of characters. The art is very much of alt-comix zine style. Joyce makes use of various screen tones, colors, and multi-media inserts (often in the form of excerpts from the gang’s zine). It is dynamic and visually stimulating to see spread out across the page. 

The layouts Joyce uses are interesting often stacked and staggered in a way to show passage of time or direct the eye in a novel way. There is also sparing use of double-page spreads with them being limited to the two big kaiju reveals. These spreads are breath taking in their scope and style. The way Joyce designs Godzilla is unique and pretty freakin’ rad with use of harsh shadows and textures. It may be one of my favorite Godzilla designs I have seen in a comic in quite some time.  

The story is a bit thread bare but there was a focus on building up the cast of characters and establishing stakes. Joyce’s handle on the main cast is quite strong with each of the members feeling more alive than just spontaneously appearing in the page. The chemistry was so strong I had to check to make sure these kids weren’t from some other work of fiction. Turns out they aren’t but that is the sense you get here in this first issue. So, yeah the plot isn’t driving the first issue but I think the world building is more critical here and you get that. 

Louie Joyce’s personal history of skating really informs this comic. You can tell the passion they poured into this book with every bit of detail and design. Joyce’s art is the star of the show here and I am eager to see what’s next. The next issue is going to be a real one as I wonder how these kids are going to manage to save their favorite skate spot or die trying. 

Check it out.

Remote Space #1

Written, illustrated, and lettered by Cliff Rathburn
Publisher: Image Comics

Review by Ricardo Serrano Denis

Cliff Rathburn has a hell of a comic in his hands with Remote Space, a four-part tech dystopia story that considers predatory evolution after Earth is rendered inhabitable by normal humans. It’s a tale of tech vs. flesh, of multiple futures vying for supremacy over the very concept of existence. It’s the kind of sci-fi we need more of, but it comes with a few surprises that can catch anyone off-guard in the best way possible.

Remote Space focuses on a version of Earth that’s been pushed to its existential limit. War, climate change, starvation, and extinction have left the planet nearly barren of organic life. Tech emerges in this scenario as the only way forward, turning humans into rapidly evolving life forms equipped with government modules that keep everyone in check. Rathburn is quick to establish a reality in which eugenics led the way to some strange body modifications that altered human genetics to the point of being nearly unrecognizable but capable of adapting to harsh living conditions.

While issue #1 does introduce several of the main characters, it’s mostly a primer on the world and the history that led to its current state. Rathburn has clearly spent a lot of time ironing out every detail in the story and is eager to let worldbuilding entice readers enough to stay for the duration. 

He greatly succeeds in this. Environments and characters all look as if infected by an aggressive tech virus that wants to eradicate natural expressions of life and replace them with artificial forms of it. A white, blue, and purple color palette accentuates this, echoing that sanitized aesthetic that high tech is associated with. Sleek, flawless, perfect.

Where Rathburn adds new flavors into his sci-fi story is in the character designs. There’s a monstrous feel to them. The flesh-based characters look like they would fit in nicely among Hellraiser’s Cenobites or the Hell demons from Doom, whereas the more artificial ones have bulkier bodies that manage to show off their physical sophistication. Each type reflects the state of the world and the decisions that led to the rise of the terrifying beings that now walk it.

Rathburn brings a fair bit of horror to Remote Space in the process. Humanity’s experiments with genetics, and their meddling with the basic building blocks of their genome, opens the door to new standards of life that scoff at expectations of normalcy and beauty. The new flesh represents the self-destructive nature of our kind, whereas tech is portrayed as the embodiment of unchecked progress. It’s as if the story is warning the reader any search for perfection will only yield monsters, and that they’ll measure what came before on their terms and their own ideas on what life should aspire to be.

Remote Space #1 introduces a rich and enticing world that looks and feels too big for just four issues. Time will tell if more may be needed in terms of story. This isn’t a knock. It’s just easy to want to spend more time in Cliff Rathburn’s imaginative sci-fi comic. You’ll want to see just how much more the planet can take, and whether our future is truly doomed to be a thing of monsters.

Verdict: BUY

Rifters #1

Writers: Brian Posehn & Joe Trohman
Artist: Chris Johnson 
Colorist: Mark Englert
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Image Comics

Review by Clyde Hall

With stories of time travel, variant realities, and multiverse tales comprising a deluge in pop culture media, we’re overdue for a less serious take on the subject. Not that we don’t enjoy well-crafted Whoniverse stories, dramas like Timeless, or even the lighthearted trips of Bill and Ted. But seeing the power of transtemporal navigation staggeringly misused and abused in ways consistent with technological breakthroughs across human history is a fertile field for dark comedy. Rifters #1 is the plow. 

The premiere doesn’t exactly live up to the hilariously graphic adult diaper hyperbole of its promotional copy, but it certainly fulfills its irreverent spirit. How do co-writers Brian Posehn and Joe Trohman accomplish this? By mirroring real world examples of advancements released without proper forethought, then regulation applied to reduce the resulting damage, followed by disastrous deregulation in the name of huge profits. Which is another way of saying they explore what happens when a life-changing quantum leap is applied using the lowest human potential. 

In 2031, a process for breaking the time barrier is achieved.  What begins as mostly science-driven voyeurism in gathering historical facts (but also wagering on the reveals) soon devolves into century-leaping podcasts by influencers without regard for any preservation of timeline continuity. Governments scrambling to stem the tide of temporal violations results in R.I.F.T. units, Regulators of Finite and Infinite Time. Agents like Geller and Fenton are tasked with tracking down violators whose time travel stunts threaten integrity of the prime timeline and stopping them. 

In the best tradition of buddy cops performing a thankless job of sanitation engineers for human folly, our protagonists aren’t exactly by-the-book operators. These two are less ‘letter of the law’, more ‘spirit of the law with a side order of gallows’ humor’ types. And in their first adventure, their methods leave them possibly doing infinitely more harm than good. 

The exposition elements here are both fast paced and equally entertaining. History is filled with humans behaving badly, so time-traveling humans turning up the chaos by acting even worse is satirical Nirvana. 

The creative team gets added points for tackling an omission of time travel fiction that’s nagged me for decades, namely the stench of the past. Chrononauts exploring 1880s London had better be ready for close encounters with August sewer effluvia, travelers to ancient Rome should expect roads grimy with animal poop and the glorious smells of rotting pantheon temple sacrifices. Halitosis in the early days of dental hygiene should curl nasal hair more than it already is. Truly, one lucrative exploitation of time travel should be developing invisible breathing filters so those with modern sensibilities aren’t reduced to ralphing uncontrollably on arrival. Posehn and Trohman briefly indulge in long overdue olfactory discussion when it comes to time travel, and they have my gratitude. 

Chris Johnson‘s art and Mark Englert‘s colors combine for an ideal aesthetic on the title. They present historical accuracy blended with whimsical mischief. That collaboration grants another layer of visual, ribald humor that compliments a saucy and clever script. 

Together, the creative team’s whipped up a fine comics launch for anyone tickled by laughably ill-advised Jurassic selfies and temporal investigations resulting from extremely inadvisable science. . 

Verdict: BUY

Wednesday Comics Reviews

  • Lawful #1 (BOOM! Studios): Writer Greg Pak presents an oppressively strict society where breaking the law has monstrous consequences. No matter what the law, people are punished for breaking them, any of them. I am left with questions of how it got to this point and if the externalized consequences are a natural occurrence or some sort of man-made measure to keep the people in line. It gets at this idea that a punitive system looks to throw people away and dehumanize them. Pak shows us the complications that put our main character Sung Lim in compromising ethical conundrums concerning being lawful and what kind of effect strict adherence to laws without nuance or grace can do to a person and a society. All laws are not ethical, and sometimes what’s ethical may not be lawful. This is a thoughtful first issue and also it’s nice to look at thanks to the art of Diego Galindo, the colors of Irma Knivila, and the letters of Simon Bowland. The colors bring this textured quality to the art and push the sense of dystopia while the letters bring it all together. Again, it’s thoughtful storytelling, written and visual, that presents a bit to chew on about systems and punishment and I think it’s worth your time. —Khalid Johnson
  • The Wicked Trinity #1 (Archie Comics):  Initially, I was excited for a Craft-like, Mean Girls-lite one shot that brings Sabrina’s rivals to the forefront of Archie Comics, but this is a major letdown, y’all. I, too, was Hex Girls-pilled from childhood, so the allure for the goths of Greendale to get some spotlight has me thirsty for a full-sized adventure of villain friendship, curses, and general bad-doing. But what we get are 20 pages that blow by so fast and accomplish so little, it feels like 1/6th a story! I get it’s a prologue to an event comic, but Wicked Trinity chews up so much scenery in an inefficient way that it’s hard to want to read more. The back-forth banter is fresh from writer Sam Maggs’ pen, but with an average three shots per page, panels are embiggened which can make them feel more important than their narrative purpose suggests. I want to say Lisa Sterle’s illustrations bring a chaotic, immature, and dark wit to Greendale that helps these fair-weather fiends, but with so little space to exist in her layouts, there’s no time to hang out! Colorist Ellie Wright challenges the carefully curated flats of Archie Comics with inner glows I can best describe as ‘Lisa Frank does shoujo magic,’ however, Wright’s rendering style bobbles inconsistently scene-to-scene, so the saving grace ends up being her manicured color moods keeping moments cohesive and easy to read. Jack Morelli reduces his lettering to as lithe as possible, but with such a stock standard approach, dialogue can feel stylistically off, so it feels like we’re having to read more than we’re getting to read. Elsewhere, there’s good narrative grounds laid for a deeper conversation on ethics in friendship that is trampled over for a quick joke like so much of the book. If this was Wicked Trinity’s one shot at hooking us into the next Archie Comics’ event, it missed me. —Beau Q.

The Prog Report

  • 2000AD Prog 2386 (Rebellion Publishing): This week’s Prog is the second Bumper Issue of the year, Bumper Issues being 48-page issues that have complete stories as well as the start of new stories. These are, effectively, designed to be the best places to jump on. And this bunch of stand-alones/new offerings is very good. The first is The Lord Provides, a twisty religous horror piece by writer Gemma Sheldrake, artist Petit Creme, and letterer Jim Campbell. There’s imagery in there you won’t soon forget, that’s for sure. Second, there’s the start of a new one with Rogue Trooper: Southern Belle, by writer Geoffrey D. Wessel, artist Dan Cornwell, colorist Chris Blythe, and letterer Campbell. It’s a nice enough setup, with a bit of intrigue and a solid cliffhanger. Finally, this issue also features a new Future Shock, by writer Laura Bailey, artist Stewart K. Moore, and letterer Annie Parkhouse. That story — as these are wont to do — features a nice bit of misdirect with a well-done twist. All around, a solid bumper issue. Oh, the cover by John McCrea with colors by Jack Davies is just fantastic. As always, you can nab a digital copy of this week’s Prog here. —Zack Quaintance

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