Monday, July 9, 2012

Science Fiction and the New Comic Wave.

Don’t think it’s going to surprise anyone when I say that I love science fiction. Especially when I was a kid I would scour my local library to try and read all the sci-fi books I could find. However when I think about it, for the last few years there hasn’t been any science fiction that’s really spoken to me for a while. Well that is until this year as there seems to have been a spark of creativity and science fiction is coming back big time, especially in the comic book industry.

Of late creators have been given a lot more leeway to create their own ideas, particularly with the independent comic companies. For some reason some of the ideas have been very science fiction based and I wanted to share some of the titles that I’m reading at the moment and really enjoying. Of course the titles i'll get into are just a sampling, there are heaps more science fiction comics out there. I’m currently reading the Dr Who/Star Trek the Next Generation crossover comic which is great. I’ve also heard great things about the Manhatten Projects, I mean how can you hate a comic series that has an evil Albert Einstein from another universe in it. Hell even at the moment we have a series based on Guillermo del Toro’s novel The Strain which is a vampire comic book series but with a more science fiction bent. Truly it’s a good time to be a science fiction fan. So buckle up, grab your light sabre, and get ready for hyper drive.

Mars Attacks (IDW)

Writer: John Layman
Artist: John McCrea

Okay so this isn’t an original idea but I loved me Mars Attacks when I was a kid. Introduced thanks to the Tim Burton movie, I delved into the back history and just loved the weirdness of the aliens. In my mind this was the science fiction equivalent of the Garbage Pail Kids (man I want some of those stickers). Warped and twisted I had high hopes for issue number one.

Thankfully the first issue was both reverent of the Mars Attacks origins while weaving a story that is both interesting, full of action and tongue fully in cheek. I really hope the series continues with this tone, as it’s always nice to see something familiar translating well to a more modern time

The Massive (Dark Horse)

Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Kristian Donaldson

Brian Wood impressed me with his ongoing series DMZ. In that he manages to take the premise of a second civil war in America; an idea that could of gone over the top; and keep it grounded on the street level with a heavy focus on characters and what impact the events have on them. So when I heard he was writing a story about the end of the world I was intrigued.

Science Fiction in the sub genre of post apocalyptic wasteland, the earth has had a bad year, with Mother Nature seeming intent on wiping out humanity with various disasters. In the midst of this are some environmentalists who are trying to find their ship The Massive which has mysteriously disappeared when everything went to hell. It’s an interesting premise of having an environmentalist facing the end of the world, something that he’s fought to protect for most of his life.

Planetoid (Image)

Writer: Ken Garing
Artist: Ken Garing

A web comic that impressed Image so much that it got picked up by the publisher. What’s more, it being a comic that Garing both writes and draws, there is a cohesion that is little seen in most comics. It also helps that the story uses a classic science fiction plot device. Basically an ex soldier crash lands on an alien planet that seems to be over run with mechanical monstrosities, not to mention an alien force that wants him dead.

It’s a survival story that I’ve seen a few times and every time I’ve loved it. While a little different it does make me remember the movie Enemy Mine which did have a lot of focus on surviving on a hostile planet. While the first issue creates an air of mystery about the planet, it’s easy to see that Garing has great things planned for the future of the story. I should also mention it’s a very pretty book and well worth your time picking up.

Saga (Image)

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples

Basically I’ve saved the best till last because in every way Saga is a thing of beauty. Brian K Vaughn captured my attention during his story Y the Last Man, then he left for the bright lights to help with movies and television. Now he has returned and proven that he hasn’t lost any of his skill. Saga is an epic story that shows a universe at war, and yet in the middle of all this is a simple story of love and family slowly developing. Narrated by the child of our main hero’s Alana and Marko, there is a deftness of writing that really shows the power of Vaughn. Each issue so far has been loaded with information and world building but not once does it feel like we are being hit over the head with exposition. The world is also a very weird one with organic robots, ghost children, magic and high calibre science, and yet the story is grounded thanks to the little character touches.

But Vaughn is only half of the package as Fiona Staples has truly captured the universe in her art and from issue to issue I’m amazed with the creative designs she comes up with. It has been reported that Vaughn let Staples create a lot of the universe and some of the weirder aspects are from her head. Thankfully she just has a wonderful style that is clear in execution, yet fluid and natural that it never feels over produced. Kind of like the universe Saga exists in, the art is one of polar opposites.

Saga is science fiction that I haven’t seen in ages, truly imaginative and yet with an epic story that reminds us of some of the classics. Take Star Wars, through in some Romeo and Juliet and you get close to what Saga is. If you are at all a science fiction fan and disregard my previous titles, please don’t pass up on Saga as it’s fantastic.

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