Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Story: Claudio Sanchez
Writer: Chondra Echert
Illustrator: Rags Morales
Colours: Emilio Lopez
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Release Date: 3rd May 2017
The frontman of rock band Coheed & Cambria, Claudio Sanchez has always been an ecumenical geek of the first degree. He has also been working to bring the science fiction story that comprises the majority of the band’s lyrical output into (it’s apparently always intended) comic book form ever since the band became successful enough to get backing. Their first two album, ‘The Second Stage Turbine Blade’ and ‘In Keeping secrets of Silent Earth 3’ made the transfer with varying success in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
Their 2005 major label debut ‘Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness’ is probably the most thematically complex work as it bounces from the established sci-fi setting to the troubled mind of the writer of that story, a man who is losing his grip on the lines between story and reality with gruesome results. This was complex enough that when a graphic novel was released at the same time as the record, it was considered by Sanchez to by lacking, partly due to financial constraints and partially because he felt that while the artwork of Christopher Shy on that project was beautiful (it really was), it wasn’t necessarily the best approach to convey the story.
Now, in 2017, we have a full-on comic book series tackling the story again and once I can say that this comic both struggles and benefits from the duality of that tale.
First of all, writer Chondra Echert has clearly made efforts to lay out the events of the story and the ‘real world’ into chronological order to show how the writer’s mental degradation in the real world directly leads to tragedy in the story. This means that the series doesn’t linger in either world for more than a few pages at a time. On one hand that can be a little disconcerting at times, and with the two interlocked narratives it means that neither really gets enough space to breathe in a single issue, so I suspect the quality of the story will only be readily appreciated in trade paperback form.
On the other hand, it does allow for a pleasing change of both pace and tone in the comic as the sci-fi setting has more characters, more action and is presented clean lines and brighter tones, with the blue skin and aura of power displayed by Supreme Tri-Mage Wilhelm Ryan (the series’ villain) standing out especially in this issue. Conversely, the real-world setting has only two characters and is presented as a grimy place, full of dull browns and yellows which offer a stark visual and narrative contrast.
Echert, illustrator Rags Morales and especially colourist Emilio Lopes are due credit for the way the differences between the two settings are so distinct in both visual and narrative tone, and it’s something that really helps to set this comic apart.
All in all, this is difficult to rate as a single issue because the story is so sprawling that it’s hard to feel that we’ve made much forward movement in this one chapter, but I definitely enjoyed it. If you can plug in, this is a dark, intense romp which veers between space opera and horror story and should be of interest to fans of both genres
[Click to Enlarge]