Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Phil Hester
Release Date: 5th October 2016
Up-and-coming publisher Aftershock Comics are continuing to push the envelope in their second wave of titles with Shipwreck. They’ve bagged one of the bigger names in the business as creator extraordinaire Warren Ellis (PLANETARY, TRANSMETROPOLITAN) is penning this title. With Ellis you always know there is the potential for something special, something different. The acclaimed writer has the uncanny ability of looking at a subject from an angle that no-one else does and then writing it in a way that is both slightly maddening and distinctly moreish. Delightfully (or frustratingly, depending on how you feel) Shipwreck falls right into that well established modus operandi.
Shipwreck is about …. aw hell …. I have no idea WHAT it’s about; it’s an Ellis story for God’s sake! I have several theories – probably none right – but that’s exactly why I love his writing. However, there are a few things I can confirm. The story is about a castaway, but the ship isn’t of the nautical variety (er, I think). Also, the land that our protagonist seems to be inhabiting is – at least in spirit – The Matrix meets Twin Peaks. There is something delightfully David Lynch in the makeup of this story that appeals to me, as well as a bucketload of symbolism. I’m scratching my head at all the spiders (and the Crows), but this is what you expect when you pick up any story by Ellis – nothing makes sense at the beginning, until all of a sudden it comes clear.
For his part, Phillip Hester’s (GREEN ARROW: QUIVER) style of drawing for this title couldn’t be more perfect. The drawing is less detail-oriented that what we are used to from his previous work, but his use of geometry to create such jagged and defined outlines in this title is nothing short of brilliant. Everything has sharp edges or points, there are few – if any – circles in the art. This, complete with an almost over-emphasised use of block shadows all reinforce the completely surreal state in which we read this story. There is an almost unashamed use of the Golden Ratio through the comic, mainly outlined by the aforementioned Spiders and Crows (which, once again, I haven’t quite worked out yet). I can’t help but think of the 60’s SciFi show The Time Tunnel when I see this, a symbolism I feel might be a good fit to whatever the hell is going on.
Shipwreck is magic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s also a confused jumbled mess of a story, but I think that is exactly the point. It’s a literal reflection of the state of mind of the main character and I believe that the protagonist and the reader will make their journey hand-in-hand from confusion to enlightenment, madness to sanity or whatever analogy you want to use for this crucible. I don’t know if this guy is trapped on another planet, another reality, or inside his own mind as he slowly drowns, but what I can tell you is that this first issue smacks of brilliance. Ever get the feeling that you are witnessing something a bit different and a bit special but you don’t quite understand why yet? That is the notion I have after reading this issue. I don’t understand what Shipwreck is, but I just can’t stop thinking about it.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.