The cover: Amid the ruins of the Vanguard, a monster from the surface of Poseidon tries to gulp down a few of the surviving crew members. Things are obviously not going well for those in space, though Steven Paxon and his ex-wife Michelle watch the chaos occur. This image has got a lot going on in it and that’s why it’s so good. There’s a massive amount of debris swirling about, there are two people exposed to the vacuum of space, surviving only by the tubes that connect to an air container. The monster looks obscene in the best possible way. The profiles of the two leads give the image some sense of hope that may lie in store for the stragglers. The whole picture looks like a lost Wally Wood image from the EC Comics era. The colors are also well done. The brightest points are the horizon line under the title and the blood red of the creature’s maw. The cool blue highlights the debris and the two flailing humans, and the brown is a great way to make the monster seem organic and alien against the disaster. Well done in every way, but I wouldn’t expect any less from Gabriel Hardman and Matthew Wilson. Overall grade: A
The story: This penultimate chapter, whose story comes from Mike Richardson and is scripted by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, begins with the humans really under the gun. Their piece of the Vanguard is starting to skim against the atmosphere. They’ll all burn up if they don’t get out. Steven Paxon volunteers to jump the gap in space to the next piece of the broken ship so he can get to the bridge to try to correct their trajectory, so they don’t burn up. Flores says he’s insane, and one crew member, Bezzerides, agrees, saying he’s better off going off on his own. After he leaves, Steven takes a moment to apologize to Michelle about why he left for the Vanguard, but before he can bare his heart a scream is heard. With some exploration, a torrent of blood is found flowing out of an air vent. Michelle realizes Bezzerides has been killed by a Galeocrinus, an animal from Poseidon that’s like a giant squid. The creature has no bones, allowing it to squeeze through any vent. It will kill them all unless they can get out of their room. Suddenly Paxon’s jump doesn’t sound too bad. The jump sequence is very exciting and would be great in a film. The final third of the book features a character in a command and the revelation of why the Vanguard exploded. The admission is too quick, and too easy, yet served as a way to increase the tension for the survivors. I think another way could have been found to reveal this information, but this is a story where the action has to keep going, so I understand why it was spat out in this fashion. I am looking to seeing how, and if, the characters can survive the fall. Overall grade: B+
The art: The visuals on this issue look very 1970s. This is Fernando Baldo’s style, but for a book set in the future I’m expecting much more realistic art, considering this is set within a spaceship. For example, the first page has a lot of Baldo’s strengths and weaknesses. The first, skinny panel establishes the ship–it’s fine. The second shows Paxon’s find of the respirators. It, too, is fine. The third panel establishes in a tiny space the survivors, the debris, the setting, Flores and Paxon. The characters look fine but the walls and debris are very loose. Much of this book is colored darkly. I think this is done to salvage art in panels like this. The fourth panel is very weak. Flores is a sketch, more than a finished drawing, and the debris around them is oddly clear between them. Was the floor swept? Flores is awful in the final panel. Obviously Baldo had to leave a lot of the panel for the hefty dialogue, but this was not the angle to do it from. His best job is done on the characters, with no background, as shown on Page 3. In fact, for crowd shots he often goes to silhouettes. I’m wondering if this for style or to save face. Pages 8 – 12 are the highpoint for him. There is no dialogue as the characters are leaping across open space. This is done very well done. I’m really mixed on this book’s illustrations. Overall grade: C
The colors: As stated in the art review, the colors are dark. This fits in well with the story since the power is out on the ship–things are going to be dark. However, I really thought certain panels to be especially dark at times to cover up Baldo’s imagery. This was the right decision by Nick Filardi. In fact, there are many panels where Filardi is using his colors to add texture where the art does not. This can be found on the walls and floors of the Vanguard: see the first page for examples of this. Like the art, Filardi’s highpoint comes on 8 – 12, where his use of blues are exceptional. And I would be remiss if I didn’t include his impressive use of red for blood. This is a horror comic as well as an action book, and when someone bleeds it shockingly stands out and that’s exactly the impact that color should have. A well done job. Overall grade: A
The letters: I’m really not liking the font chosen for characters’ dialogue. It’s very 1970s and comes across like something found in an independent black and white book. I know computers are used for lettering, but this looks like a last minute, hand drawn scrawl. The sound effects are okay, but also have that 1970s vibe to them. This is a rare disappointment from Nate Piekos of Blambot. Overall grade: C-
The final line: A super action sequence can’t overcome a convenient reveal and art that looks four decades old. I’m going to see this to end because the story does have some merit. Overall grade: C+
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.