In Review: The Last Space Race #4

I was let down by the story and art in this issue.

The cover: The ships that the characters will use to journey to the mysterious alien vessel named Morningstar silent orbits the Earth as it makes its way to a space platform. This is a very calm cover from Alex Shibao and Natália Marques that suits how the issue begins, but doesn’t tease any of the troubles. It’s fine, but a fairly generic shot of ships and stations in space. The colors are really blasé, having the ships blend in too much with the planet. Different colors might have helped this and a more centered ship might have also improved it. Overall grade: C+

The story: This is real change of pace from the previous issues by Peter Calloway. The crew, with Roger and Sasha among them, is readying to leave Earth’s orbit and meet up with the Morningstar. Sasha is sitting in a chair outside the platform manipulating a gigantic arm. He’s talking to Roger who’s not amused with his banter. Roger says, “I know you’re just practicing what you’re going to say when you get to the Morningstar–” A warning flashes across a screen and Roger tells Sasha to abort his mission. At that moment Sasha realizes he’s lost control of the arm. In fact, he’s moving towards the oxygen and hydrogen tanks. The story then takes a hard turn to the past, showing how Sasha escaped from behind the Iron Curtain. It’s engaging, but becomes lessened when it’s revealed that this is a flashback of Sasha telling the story to a psychologist who has to approve him for the mission to go into space. Their conversation goes as one would expect, even if this is the first issue one has picked up. The flashback with the psychologist interrupts the action in the present as things go from bad to worse for those in space. The scenes with the psychologist aren’t great, as the scenes in the present show that the threats in the past didn’t occur — it takes all the bite out of them. Sasha’s actions at the end are fine, but didn’t thrill me as I’m expecting him to overcome the cliffhanger. I would have enjoyed this more without the character backstory that didn’t add anything to the tale. Overall grade: C+

The art: I found the visuals by Alex Shibao to be okay. The first two pages convey space, from the exterior and interior of the platform looking neat, with characters floating about in zero gravity cool. The full-paged splash on Page 3 isn’t great because the ship and platform are just too smooth. They lack the details I need to make the vessels real. I liked Page 4 with Roger going into action. The slight tilts of the character and his position in the panels continues his zero-g state. The 1983 flashback has Sasha’s father looking like Chris Hemsworth. The pages at the checkpoint are tense, but I needed a moment to figure out what had occurred at the top of 9; this was because the debris is difficult to see. A sound effect would have helped this moment. The parallel panels on 10 are neat and how the final image on 10 is reversed and put in a new location on 11 cool; this is a smooth transition. The explosion on 12 is rough and the speed points on Sasha have him looking like he’s on fire. All of 13 is neat for the slight differences between each panel, creating a terrific sense of movement between the characters. The next page focuses on one character and it’s fine, but because his eyes and face move so little, I had a rough time believing what was said. I have no idea how Sasha got from Page 12 to Page 15, as he was shown being blown away from the platform. This is a moment when the visuals left me grasping at solutions. I like the layout of Pages 17 and 18, which has the reader going across both pages to read three equal sized horizontal rows. The final page looks fine, but there’s so much dark space on the character as to kill the emotion and the ship so far as to make me think the floating character should have been fried. The visuals on this issue were hot and cold. Overall grade: C

The colors: The colors by Natália Marques are also fine. I like that space isn’t wholly black and blue, but a combination of the two with some violets inserted at times. This allowed the void to have some good depth. The ship on Page 3 is too faded compared to the platform. They’re close enough where they should have been the same bright white. The text from Sasha’s book is given a musty faded yellow, making the reader think they’re reading from an old book. I liked the slight darkening of the the characters’ skin when they’re in the snow — it created a neat overcast environment. The browns in the psychologist’s office were too similar to the color of the furniture and the characters and their clothes: everything seemed to blob up due to the colors. The massive explosion looks like a quick coating of yellow and orange. Granted, the art doesn’t help, but this important moment looks messy. The glare on the character’s face that ends 19 is fine, but, given the proximity, shouldn’t the person watching be dead? The last page has very bright colors. I wish the entire book had been like this. Overall grade: C

The letters: Marshall Dillon creates the transmissions, dialogue, computer text, book text, whispered dialogue, computer speech, and the tease for next issue. I’m happy that the transmission and the dialogue are different fonts, as one should look mechanical. The computer text looks as though it would be seen on a computer, and the book text looks like it comes out of a book. There’s a computer countdown late in the book that looks like as if it’s from a machine. I only wish there had been a sound on Page 12. Overall grade: B+

The final line: I was let down by the story and art in this issue. Something goes wrong, but was it sabotage? It’s very unclear. Did we need all the backstory on Sasha? Not at all. It seems this issue could be skipped and nothing really lost in the overall arc of the story. The visuals went from good to average, and this includes the colors. Four issues in and the characters and reader are no closer to the alien ship. I’ve grown impatient. I’m still on board for the next issue, but I’m expecting it to be better than this installment. Overall grade: C+

To order a digital copy go to: https://www.comixology.com/The-Last-Space-Race-4/digital-comic/756838?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the cover visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five 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.
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