The cover: The explosion aboard Vanguard blasts debris above planet Poseidon. Among the backdrop of space, emerging from the explosion, are some of the ship’s survivors, with the book’s protagonist Steven Paxon in the lead. The serious looks on the characters’ faces emphasize their desperate situation. Good representational cover from Gabriel Hardman with Matthew Wilson. No one does smoking explosions better than Hardman, and this looks great. And the visuals wouldn’t stand out so well if it wasn’t for Wilson’s contributions. With this much detail, I wonder if Wilson was happy or sad looking at what he would have to do? Whichever it was, he makes this look good, especially with the streaks of colors coming out the blast. Overall grade: A
The story: This second installment’s story originated from Mike Richardson and was scripted by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko. The Vanguard, carrying several species of toxic and dangerous animals, had an explosion last issue. Some of the crewmembers were able to close the breach in their portion of the ship, though many lives were lost. But it’s about to get worse. The seals aren’t secure. Oxygen could be lost at any time. Creatures are wandering the ship. Oh, and Vanguard is going to hit Poseidon’s atmosphere in 14 hours unless they can get to the bridge and change the angle of the ship. As one survivor succinctly states, “Otherwise, we’re going to burn.” This is a classic disaster movie set in space. I grew up during the 1970’s, so Airport, The Towering Inferno, and The Poseidon Adventure were films I saw several times back on early cable system ON TV. I loved those movies, and I’m finding myself feeling the same way as I read this. Like The Poseidon Adventure, our group of survivors have to make their to a specific area to survive. Along the way there are physical and biological obstacles. There’s also drama as Steve has only recently learned that his ex-wife is on board, and he’ll do anything he can to save her. That type of conflict seems ripped right out of those films. There are some nice scares on Page 5, 13, 15, 21, and 22. This is a fun read set in the future, whose origins can be found in the past. Overall grade: A
The art: I’m fairly split down the middle on the visuals by Fernando Baldo. When he’s using thin line work, such as in the interiors of the Vanguard, things look good. Examples of good work can be found on Page 4, 7, 14, and 18. He’s good on characters’ faces, showing the anguish and pain they’re enduring. I also like this layout, which takes a very cool turn on Page 12 that introduces a sweet action sequence. I wasn’t happy with when he decides to use thick line work, such as on the first page. Using such thick lines made me wonder if the pages were produced under an impending deadline or it was a unsuccessful stylistic choice to make the machinery of the future look hard. It doesn’t work. Every the line work in the explosion in the third panel employs odd lines for depth. I’m really scratching my head on art like this compared with what is shown on Page 4. You would almost think it isn’t the same artist. The creatures on this book do look good with their appearances instilling the right amount of revulsion, yet garnering closer scrutiny because readers want to know all the gory details of what these things look like. Being obscured by the loss of power on the ship only increases their fright. Impressive work and questionable work. Overall grade: C
The colors: Solid job on making things dark, yet visible by Nick Filardi. His work looks really well done on creating spots of light in the darkness, such as when the survivors band together, Pages 4 – 7. I also like how color is used to show their movement through the broken ship, as some sections have more power, thus more light, and thus more color. The best coloring is done on the final page, but if you pause to look too long, you’ll be dead. Overall grade: A-
The letters: The dialogue font on this book looked really dated, as if it were from a 1970s underground comic. I’ve seen Nate Piekos of Blambot do other books and been more than satisfied with his work, but when people talk in this I flashed back to Heavy Metal’s early issues. Was this intentional to echo those 1970s disaster films? I don’t know, but it didn’t sit right with me. The sound effects also look dated. I can’t give a good score to this work when it distracted from my looking at the visuals. Overall grade: C+
The final line: I’m liking the story, but not enjoying the visuals. Overall grade: B
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.