Professor Seedy’s Weekly Progress Report for 5.21.2014

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Because there was a delay, a sneak peek at 5.28.2014 is also included. Enjoy

Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Archer Coe 12 & 13 + + + + + A
Like a good song on repeat each time though we discover more than before
Artifacts 37 + + / / / B-
Modern numerology is used in a spell binding lovecraftian tinged manhunt
Avengers World 06 + / + / / B-
Thought provoking existential crisis for hyperion
BPRD HonE + + + / / B
Chapter ends with a dark and murky stale mate between humans and demons
Bad Dreams 02 + / + / C
Spectaculary colored bad dream is fouled up by state the obvious word balloons
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Superman & Wonder Woman / / / / D
Wonder Woman tracks down her no good cheating bf Superman by contacting all his ex’s. Yeah, that happened.
Batman/Superman + / / / / C
trapped in the phantom zone, everyone decide to think like Clark although that lead them to this situation in the first place.
Batman & Frankenstein 31 + + / / / B-
Bruce & Frank reconcile the whole torture rip frank apart to find his souls essence transgressions made from grief
Batman Eternal 07 + + + / / B
Blood + Chaos begins to floods the streets while the Falcone chokes Gotham back into submission.
Batwoman 31 / / + + / B-
Too many sides stories with no payoff.
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Birds of Prey 31 / / F
Nightcrawler dude tries to kill commissioner. Simple but the writers repeat this over and over and… Gordon lives of course.
Brain Boy & GESALT / / F
too much time spent on lovers realizing they dont know each other. Not even the psychic nor his girlfriend.
Cyclops 01 + / + / + B
Relatable story about a son reconnecting with is father by going on a space pirate adventure.
Danger Girl Mayday 02 + / + / / B-
Part exploitation part 80’s action hero about a hero remembering her past life by kicking ass.
Daredevil 03 + + + / / B
A smart balance of daredevil + murdock infiltrating the owls hideout.
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Deadpool Annual 02 + + + / / B
When Spidey’s paranoia isn’t enough, he gets help from his favorite paranoid schizophrenic
East of West 12 + + + + / A-
If only the UN peace talks where this exciting
Elektra 02 + + + / / B
A literary antihero tale as elektra confronts lady bullseye
Flash Gordon 02 / / + / / C
Not even Flash’s logical comrades can stop him from leaping into be the best man.
Ghosted 10 + + + / / B
The end of each arc is a new nightmare for our poor SOB protagonist Jackson
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Green Hornet 12 + + + / / B
Everything great about the new wave of pulp/noir can be summed up in Mark Waid’s Green Hornet
Green Lantern New Guardians / / / / / C-
a morally ambiguous save the planet story that failed to pull any heart strings or urgency
Harley Quinn 06 / F-
Panel one starts off with a 69 between Syborg & Harley. The rest is a really bad slapstick refractory period.
Henchmen 01 / + + + / B
A fun kickstarter indie take on an average Joe becoming a henchman
Hulk 03 + + + + / A-
Banner’s Jigsaw mind is slowing piecing itself together after Zombified Abomination Smashes Hulk into sleepytime
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Invincible 111 + / / / / C
No one is invincible as Image favorite writer Robert Kirkman steps in for some gory surprises
Justice League 30 + + + / / B-
Can Lex rebuild the ignorant Justice League before it is too late.
Justice League America 14 + / / / / C
A catch up and debrief acts as a prelude to Justice League United
Knowledge 04 + / / D
The Pious and Angst tone of Cradle as been done a million times & bludgeons the plot down to a crawl
LOLA XoXo 02 + / / / C-
Well that merry go round of a plot was fast but pretty.
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Magneto 04 + + + + / A-
Although we’re given a reason for his rampage, Erik’s cold lack of remorse and empathy never asks for our sympathy
Magnus Robot Fighter 03 + + + + + A
Magnus moves from being a myth to a hero in this smart and well paced action satire
Mind the Gap 17 + / / / + B-
Act 2 is off to a slow start but we’re already given plot twists to wet our appetite.
Monsters & Madmen + + + C
Niles beautifully stitched together a plot about Frank’s Bride but the ending tragically fell apart.
MPH + + + / + A-
Slick dialogue & relatable characters help us slide into this rise of the Anti-Hero story arc
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Nim 01 / + + / / B-
This reads like a fun smashup between an afterschool special and lil’ Red Sonja
Nova 17 + + + + + A
A somber break about a a cosmic boy learning his powers can’t help the reality and problems of a single parent household
Original Sin 02 + / / + / B-
A bunch of fun, banter, chases, and other busy work which leads up to an anti climatic reveal
Powers the Bureau 10 + + + + + A
Well played, Bendis. Christian’s interrogation was slick, smart and one of the best in the comic medium.
Prophet 44 + + + + + A
A mesmerizing odyssey which respects and fears the loneliness of exploring the new and unknown.
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Red Hood & The Outlaws / / + / / C
The not Lobo Pulls a bond villian moment and loses to the Outlaws while putting himself in real Lobo’s crosshairs
Rocket Girl 05 + + + + + A
Rocket Girl blasts through the finish line of the first arc and leaves us charged for more.
RogueTrooper 04 + / + / / B-
War is Hell and Rogue feels why
Saga 19 + / + / / C
Something different this one reads. We’ve stepped away from smart fantasy and into boring melodrama sitcom.
Sinestro 02 + + / / / B
Sinestro kills off his darlings in order to promote growth and unity in his corps.
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Solar Man of the Atom + + + + /
Erika learns how to kill giant goo spitting robots with E= MC motherfucking Square.
Supergirl 31 / / / / / C-
Not exactly a raging Red Lantern issue, more of supergirl being a naïve kryptonian.
Superman Doomed 01 + + + / + A-
Holy Doomsday, Batman. Did Supes just rip Doomsday in half and inhale his bloody remains?
Future’s End 0 + / + / + B
The Eye has decimated everything so let’s defeat time, death, Batman, Superman, Frankenstein… Yep, that’s the plan
Future’s End 02 / / + + / B-
The story starts to pull itself together as our hero’s fall apart at Oliver Queen’s funeral
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Future’s End 03 + + / / / B-
Just when we though the DCU couldn’t get more cynical. So far Grifter is the strongest element of this series.
Uncanny X Men 21 + / + / / B-
We circles around a bunch of paranoid subplot without getting anywhere.
Ultimate FF 02 / F-
Ew, the art is an eyesore and the copy and paste dialogue lacks any natural voice or conversational tone.
All New Invaders 03 / / / / D
Everything came together like a campy Hasbro cartoon.
All Star Western 31 + / / + / B-
Hex and Tuhullah have an interesting style of foreplay
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
Aquaman 31 + + / / C
Aquaman spends most of his time punching Swampthings treetrunks
Archer Coe 14 + + + + + A
A consistantly smart and well paced conclusion to this years best non hero story
Avengers 30 + + + / / B
We are flung 50 years into the future to learn Tony is still a selfish bastard
Batman 31 + / + / / B-
Some good action but Riddles & Wit were disappointingly defeated by Batman’s brawn.
Batman Eternal 08 + + + / / B
With no allies or law enforcement left, Batman must find Falcone’s linchpin before it’s too late for Gotham
Title Art Story Characterization Originality Format Grade
C.O.W.L. 01 + + + / + A-
A new Watchman-esque series with brutal dialogue and action.
Captain Midnight 11 / / + / / C
Time and Loss are catching up to Captain Midnight while the plot takes too many easy way outs
Catwoman 31 / + + / / B-
A smart heist involving some easter eggs dropped in previous issues and arcs.
Chew/ Revival + / + / C
Great Character interaction but the plot was very underwhelming and lacked the pull to keep turning the page.

Powers: The Bureau Vol 1 (2014) Review

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STORY BY Brian Michael Bendis

ART BY Michael Avon Oeming

COLORS BY Nick Filardi

LETTERS BY Chris Eliopoulos

It’s part welcome back partner part crime involving kidnapping women. We are quickly reintroduced to Power’s veterans Deena Pilgrim and Christian Walker before Bendis throws us into batshit crazy hijinks that makeup the Power’s world. Bendis seems to always shine the most when he is able to cleverly take familiar and ridiculous themes from popculture or other lore and twist them into a different direction. This story arc is no different. We discover that someone is knocking up women, and sometimes men too, with power super sperm which forces them to incubate a kryptonite infused xenomorph which births like one can imagine. Yep, if you’re thinking WTF?, you are a normal human being. However, that’s part of the writing style Power’s readers love about this series.

Powers is a great companion to the super hero world because Bendis builds its foundation and humor off of asking what it would be like to live in a world of superheros. However, this isn’t a nihilistic Moorian take. Instead Bendis will ask questions like,”Would Superhero Groupies buy Power’s Sperm off the Black Market so they can have Power babies?”, or “Can undercover cops exist in a world with psychics?”.

Furthermore, the readers couldn’t ask for better characters to guide us through this world. Each panel gushes with humor because of the Agent Pilgrim’s foul mouthed quips and Agent Walker’s stonefront sarcastic retorts. Their banter combined with Pilgrim’s neurotic personality and Agent Walker’s sordid Power’s backstory fleshes out their dynamic personalities, and it’s a consistent pleasure to see how the agents will handle each new situation.

Because Oeming’s minimalist art style has flourishes like deep shadows and sharp and defined lines which creates a noir tonality, it perfectly compliments the crime procedural theme. The style could be compared to Batman: TAS with the coloring opting for gold rather than blue tones. Also, Oeming’s artwork is also just as over the top as the plot. Each fight scene is godly and brutal, each power ability is eery and luminescent.

There’s never a dull moment in this series. Each twist or new plot point will make any comic book lover smile and soak in the gritty behind the scenes take on living in a powers world. If the reader isn’t laughing at the human element, they are mesmerized by the incredible action from the Powers.

 

Grade: A+

Black Science Vol. 1 (2014) Review

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STORY BY Rick Remender

ART BY Matteo Scalera

COLORS BY Dean White

Black Science is a genre redefining science fiction epic. Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera take us on a reality hoping adventure with a team of flawed ego-maniacal scientists. They’ve just finished building “The Pillar” which allows people to travel to alternate dimensions. They describe it like an onion, the Pillar slides them down through layers of reality to presumably arrive at the core and foundation to all realities. Nevertheless, all is not well since the Pillar had been sabotaged and is constantly jumping the team from one hostile dimension to the next.

Although each jump usually leads the team to a more desperate location, to stay behind will inevitably forfeit their chances of ever going home. With the diminishing crew dying off, even if they choose to carry on who knows how long until it leads to their ultimate destruction. Meanwhile, there’s the chance the Pillar itself is cracking through realities and making all of existence unstable.

Unlike other similar stories such as Fantastic Four, Lost in Space, or Sliders, Remender always puts the danger in the foreground. The peril and doom is just as prominent as any character whether it’s coming from sources such as Frog Warriors, possessed primates, or getting caught in a genocide war or much more. It also serves as the primary motivation for Grant and the team to get everyone back to their own reality. If that wasn’t enough, there’s constant inner-group conflict revolving around power struggles and trust.

As the story progresses, we discover that the team has just as many layers as an Onion. In many stories a character like Grant would be the hero or all round good guy; however, Remender doesn’t insult the readers with stereotypes, cliches, or overused tropes. Instead, Remender likes to bring healthy doses of realism to his characters. From little Pia to Kadir, each is well defined with their own personal flaws, self absorbed motivations, as well as their brilliance and fearlessness. A large amount of tension stems from conflicts between all these very diverse set of characters. This isn’t to say the characters aren’t likable. In fact, not only are the readers able to connect to these characters, but also their realistic portrayal helps anchor us down in this unbelievable epic. For example, we see Grant break away from the idealism and conventional nature of explores and scientists. Each new threat or revealed secret peels back another layer of Grant’s ego until only his raw and primal nature remains. Perhaps he sums it up best when he says,

“Ideology is masturbation. A jerk-off afforded to those few privileged with time on their hands and no wolves at the door. Put that shit to the test in the field. This is what you get. A savage monkey willing to die so long as he destroys his enemy”.

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Also, Remender isn’t afraid to sacrifice lives in order to remain true to the tale. By issue six, the readers have already seen some prominent characters die. With a steady death count, most writers fail to keep the readers from becoming detached. However, each life which is lost, no matter how small their role, is always a gut punch to the readers. Because we care about these people, it adds just that much more tension and feeling of risk. Once again, this shows how much talent is embedded in the writing.

Meanwhile, Matteo Scalera does an excellent job of balancing the familiar with the exotic. Each creature, plant, civilization looks somewhat familiar while simultaneously new and exotic. The eyes never feel like they are staring at another world or planet; rather, they are looking at this world from a flipped and reinvented perspective. Furthermore, praise also goes to Scalera and his team’s endurance for being able to completely rebuild our world from issue to issue. Each new dimension has its own unique and defining characteristics, and it’s always a dark and beautiful treat for the eyes.

At the end of the first arc, we’re left with a nail biting conclusion that Remender has only just begun this ride. He’s kicked off a dynamic and beautiful tale which is willing to challenge conventional story telling and examine how human nature and destiny fit into scientific and technological progress.

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Uncanny Avengers Annual (2014) Review

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STORY BY Rick Remender

ART BY Paul Renaud

Rick Remender takes a break from his reality splitting, time hopping madness of his Apocalypse Twins story arc. Instead, Remender gives us a satire about the entertainment industry while using Mojo as his surrogate. The story begins with Mojo trying to pitch his new high concept story arc to a room full of statistic vomiting board members until they finally green light a story about the Uncanny Avengers being attacked by their supernatural counterparts. Sound familiar because it should. This is a nod to the DC crossover event, Forever Evil, which was kicked off by Justice League and Justice League Dark fighting each other before they united to confront a larger antagonist, the Crime Syndicate. This metafictional nod sets the tone for the whole rest of the issue while Remender consistently makes fun of the poor choices the artists, editors, writers, and critics have been guilty of making in the Comic Book if not Entertainment Industry as a whole.

It’s interesting when the board members tell Mojo the story needs more highschool type drama in order for its target demographic to better relate to the characters. This is a self-referential sucker punch to Young Avengers, Jean Grey’s School, Hellfire Club, Avengers Academy. It has become increasingly frustrating watching the story arc play second fiddle to the love quadrangles. Brian Michael Bendis has admitted that the relationship between Emma Frost and Scott Summers made little sense. Storm is now with Wolverine instead of Black Panther. Does it matter? Nope, but the writers will still use this gossip to world build like it was one of Grandma’s daytime soap operas. Seriously, Logan is old, hairy, short, broke, angry, alcoholic, who had killed his “one true love” who he was having an affair with. Yet, Wolverine has slept with more people that would make even Emma Frost blush. If Wolverine didn’t have the healing factor, 80% of Marvel’s female population would have STD’s because of him.

However, the big jab is towards audiences in general. Remender comments how today critics are too afraid to say they don’t understand a plot. Instead, they will take the opposite approach and compliment the story no matter how indecipherable the story may be. No one wants to appear stupid so everyone goes along with the flow. In addition, if the story is too straight forward, people will whine about how boring it is. Basically, Rick Remender has boiled critics down to an adolescent child who suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder.

Quite honestly, how can we argue? Plot twists, action, and relationships being shoveled in just to keep peoples attention doesn’t equal good writing. Soon, it turns into a tangled mess and like Rogue in this story warns, “don’t pull too hard at the loose plot strings”; otherwise, it will cause the whole story to unravel. Perhaps the audience should dare to question the integrity of these stories. Hang on Mark Waid. How’s Daredevil able to jump around a city without killing the little girl with a bomb inside her gut or Hulk jumping around the city with his brain hanging out? Let’s not even get into the babbling nonsense of Faction’s Inhumanity or Spenser and Kot’s Secret Avengers.

In addition, it’s always a pleasure when writers stab at marketing research which force writers to curve their writing towards what is hot and trending in order to connect with their target demographic. For example, using a Marvel version of twitter in place of dialogue boxes even though it slows the pacing to a grueling stop is just as tacky as when the 80’s Teen Titans would reference Michael Jackson or product slogans. Yep, here’s looking at you Brian Bendis and Kieron Gillen.

Rick Remender has given us a fun commentary about the state of the Comic Book Industry. Although it came out of nowhere, it is nice that an A list writer validates the back slide of comic book standards. Although a critic can now be anyone with an internet connection, a 7th grade level of education, and a working knowledge of pop culture, doesn’t mean the industry should lower their own standards. Somebody should take accountability for the quality and content.

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Forever Evil: Blight (2014) Review

justice league darkSTORY BY J.M. DeMatteis, Ray Fawkes

ART BY Mikel JaninVicente CifuentesGuillermo Ortego, Francis Portela

Blight is the Jungian Shadow projection or manifestation of all of Humanity’s fears and evil thoughts. Unlike other stories which claim evil is an outside antagonist influencing people’s actions, evil in Fawkes and Matteis story is created by people themselves. When the Crime Syndicate invaded earth causing massive amounts of death and destruction, people’s fears and anger enhanced Blight’s strength and presence until it became it’s own devastating force. This imbalance between good and evil disrupted the natural order of Earth thereby forcing heroes like Swamp Thing and new Justice League Dark member Nightmare Nurse to find a way to restore balance. Meanwhile, Constantine remains self-invested in finding his lost lover Zatana. This was a nice throwback to the silver age of DC comics when writers would borrow heavily from new age philosophies.

With two writers, it’s impressive the characterization of everyone remained consistent. This keeps the story focused and although there are times the characters get in their own way, such as John Constantine, the story never undermines the characters in order to gain a cheap win. For example, Nightmare Nurse goes against her antagonistic nature in order to heal her team mates. Phantom Stranger goes against the league in order to save his friend. Constantine ends up being exiled for his bias towards self preservation. However, got to give Constantine credit for his uncanny ability to find a way to be naked around every female character in this story. Although we see character development, the writers never go against their protagonist’s natures. Each motivation, flaw, and strength makes the characters believable and relatable.

Another excellent feat is this is a eighteen issue story arc, yet it never slows down by throwing in filler and fluff. The action is steady but they weight it down with just the right amount of exposition boxes to give it the needed tone and danger. With an eighteen issue story arc of adrenaline action it could have been easy to just let the action push the story along; however, the writers take this opportunity to use inner dialogue boxes to further flesh out each person’s motivation. This is a nice contrast to some of the other Forever Evil story arcs which have villains being evil for evil sake or other shallow and unimaginative plot development.

Despite the heavy concept and high octane pacing, the story arc still manages to find room for humor to completely round out the story’s dynamic. The epitome of this comes when the protagonists are asking the great and powerful God for help and the writers rip a page from Wizard of Oz. Yep, the voice of god comes through a dog who is a mirror image of Toto and explains to John Constantine that he really does have a heart. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long before Constantine grows tired and walks out on God’s divine ability to state the obvious and take credit for other peoples work. Relax, this is a story where one of the most powerful heroes is a talking tree trunk. It isn’t exactly scripture although there was that talking bush that one time. Hmm, with all the other biblical references it wouldn’t be too far fetched for Matteis and Fawkes to write a scene about the Parliament of Trees speaking to Moses. After all, half the fun of reading Justice League Dark and Trinity of Sin is to see how the writers weave different religious mythology into the DC world.

Overall, Forever Evil: Blight is definitely one of the better installments. Although it lacks A list villains and heroes, the readers will inevitably care for each player involved, even the villains are able to earn the readers sympathy. In addition, these writers have proven they are capable of more than sitting on the sidelines cheering on the main Crossover event. Instead, they have crafted together an intense ride which showcases the difficulty of flawed individuals with conflicting motivations working together to achieve one goal.

Colder (2013) Review

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STORY BY Paul Tobin

ART BY Juan Ferreyra

Colder is set in a world where a Jungian Shadowland lies just beyond the perception of sanity. This place of nightmares are where all the fears and traumas dwell and wait for their chance to feed on damaged souls. There are two who can travel back and forth between chaos and order. Nimble Jack, the antagonist who looks like a gothy Neo-Nazi, feeds on those who are the most insane and corrupted. Nimble Jack has an uncanny ability to find his victims one loose thread that keeps their sanity stitched together and pull until they begin leaping from tall buildings or slipping nooses around their necks. Colder references the cold skinned Declan. Declan can feed on insanity too but in the process he is able to mend the fractured egos and pull them back into orderly state of being. These two form the duality between chaos and order, apathy and sympathy, despair and hope, and demonstrate what happens when one is tipped too far.

In first few pages, Paul Tobin walks us through an asylum where oppressive order burns away to violent chaos. With each new patient, their maddening diatribes become less coherent and their actions become more violent. This culminates with the introduction between Nimble Jack and Declan. In one scene, Ferreyra and Tobin perfectly capture Nimble Jack’s ruthless apathy. He crawls into a convict’s cell and unravels the man and motivates him to hang himself. Nimble Jack watches the convicts kicking dance of death and delightfully compares it to a man swimming. Meanwhile, they use Reece, Declan’s caretaker, as a way to demonstrate Declans compassion and sympathy. In order to get Reece to understand Nimble Jack and Declan’s world, Declan allows Reece to start losing her grip on reality in order to see the Shadowland. The deterioration of Reece’s state of mind throws Declan into deep regret and remorse.

Every character is a macabre caricature done in beautiful inks and paints. The panels are creative and break the mold in order to match the surrealism of this cerebral story. There’s the nostalgic flash back scenes which have newspaper or comic strip style gutters and framing. Whereas the shadowland will use its colors to softly create boarders while retaining the surreal aspect that each frame is fading into the other. Or, there are action sequences framed by rearview mirrors or close up shots of Nimble Jack in Declan’s eyeballs. Watching Nimble Jack grotesquely crawl out from underneath a victims skin, it’s hard to deny this is the most beautifully depicted nightmare currently on the shelves.

Colder has a cerebral depth which is often left out of most horror genre comics these days. Instead of relying on a cat and mouse chase, the creators decided to plunge into the depths of nightmares. They’ve created an unnerving intensity which will make its readers jump at their own shadows. 

Trillium (2014) Review

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STORY BY Jeff Lemire

ART BY Jeff Lemire

Once the final page to this incredible arc is flipped, the mind will have to take a moment to soak in the amount of layers and depth Jeff Lemire had just expressed. At first, Trillium begins as a hard Sci-Fi. Lemire crams heavy world building exposition into every tiny panel on his 12 grid layout. There’s a great sentient virus traveling throughout the universe eradicating all trace of humanity. The Trillium flower is our last hope for a cure. Meanwhile, our two protagonist William and Nika are racing against time and space to uncover the deeper meaning of the Trillium flower, the alien race who holds it sacred and the looming black hole.

Like all good Sci-Fi’s Lemire begins his story with a straight forward solve the mystery save the world scenario; however, once the tale finishes it becomes an exercise in existentialism. Lemire breaksdown the conventional linear narrative in order to accurately express his ideas and characters. For example, remember the cramming heavy exposition into those small panels? In addition, Lemire will also force us to flip the book upside down to read the story from the opposite protagonists perspective. There’s an issue where we have to read it from front to back and then back to front. Not only does this approach force the reader to become actively involved, but also this style breaks linear continuity down into a singularity.

Also, Lemire has also went to great lengths to show a communication breakdown. He portrays this rather through people not being able to speak or understand the other, or the perspectives and motivation runs against the protagonist ideology. It’s only solved with patience and a connection through the Trillium flower. A flower which becomes more symbolic for unity as the story progresses. By the way, Lemire even took time out to create an alien alphabet where people willing to spend time can decode and translate the cryptic alien language.

In the background, the architectural designs and details for the Inca temples or the spaceships are highly detailed. Meanwhile the foreground objects such as characters and artifacts often have an impressionist style. With the world building details of technology contrasting with the unusual morphology of the characters and cosmos, it establishes a more classic science fiction tone and style.

Jeff Lemire forces the reader to actively participate in this Sci-Fi adventure, but it isn’t without reward. The amount of work and creativity Lemire put into deconstructing conventional comic book narrative in order to build this epic is staggering and worth applause. Once the final page to this incredible arc has flipped, it will a take moment before we realize Jeff Lemire had cleverly broke down the existential question into one answer. The non linear structure, the shifting perspectives, the use of language and technology it’s all about a message which transcends beyond time and space.

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