Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Writer: Steve Niles
Artists: Christopher Mitten, Jay Fotos
Release Date: #1 out now; #2 out 22nd July 2015
Much as sci-fi is a mainstay of comic book storytelling these days, it’s not all that often that you get a sci-fi story that goes exploring in the grand tradition of NASA and the ESA – the dream of spaceships that could visit other worlds in an instant is a particular favourite of mine, and it’s a shame it’s not more thoroughly explored in comicdom.
The Disciples belies its title – as all good sci-fi should – to bring me precisely that, and so I’m sure you can imagine my delight that space was to be our setting, particularly given that we’ve just had New Horizons report back from visiting our wee ex-planet Pluto. A better time there couldn’t’ve been to present me with a story that explores our solar system.
The writing is solid insofar as it sets the stage magnificently – going through exposition by action, rather than just staring at us and telling us it. The dialogue clunks on a couple of occasions, though I’m undecided as to whether or not it makes the characters seem more or less human. The characters do overall feel a little hollow – vessels to move through the story and little else. Thankfully, said story is progressing interestingly enough – an abandoned outpost to be visited, a mystery to be addressed. There’s a couple of twists in issue 2 that certainly toss some spanners into the works, and it’ll be intriguing to see how it all resolves itself.
But the real selling point of the book would be Mitten and Fotos’ absolutely stellar – and yes, I use that word knowingly – artwork. Scratchy character work gives the book an absolutely beautiful texture when doing its story thang. The real treat, however, is whenever we ‘cut to the black’, to use the Firefly vernacular. Space-scapes abound, particularly in the second issue, and they’re incredibly arresting pieces of art that posses both a gorgeous sense of scale, and a curious intimacy. Combined with Niles narration, it’s akin to Darren Arronofsky’s ‘The Fountain’ in its depiction of space travel – strangely soothing, and yet incredibly arresting.
Like a fairly awesome mix of Alien’s psychological horror, Firefly’s frontiersmanship and the sense of wonder that imbues all great sci-fi, this is a book that absolutely knows how to make the most of its wonderful artists. There’s a heck of a lot to like about this series thus far, and whilst there’re a couple of writing pitfalls, it’s eminently readable and thoroughly enjoyable.
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The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24