Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Phil Hester
Release Date: 3rd May 2017
Shipwreck has become a bit of a conundrum for me. I find it hard to determine if I love it or hate it. In other words, it’s infuriating. The question is, however, is it infuriating good or infuriating bad? Part three ripped open a lot of the mystery that I found so appealing about the series in the first place, and I wasn’t sure where that sat with me.
This latest issue sort of sees writer Warren Ellis build on that in a manner that only Warren Ellis can do. That is to say, things get even murkier while seemingly revealing more of what has gone on. It’s the kind of back-and-forth that messes with my head. Without spoilers, we learn more about Project Janus, and Mr Isham. However, we still can’t be sure this recall is correct. Shipwrights mind seems so fractured that we have no idea whether we’re discovering what actually transpired. For all we know it could be a hallucination. This is the crux of Shipwreck; this is the infuriating draw of the story. As a reader, you’re still not sure if this is a story about psychosis or science fiction. It’s just so maddening and yet so appealing at the same time.
It’s quite ingenious in its way. I’ve read my review copy a dozen times and I’m still no clearer on what is going on. I get the feeling all the clues are there, the symbology in the art and story is evident, but without context they have no meaning. I’m just waiting for the issue that is going to lock this all into place, prompting me to hit myself for not seeing the big picture sooner.
Phil Hester compounds the overall aura of delirium in the world of Shipwreck through his art. There is an intangible quality in the solidity of the art comprised of straight, slashing, inorganic lines. It’s more like the images are scored onto the page, rather than drawn on them. The repeated concentric lines are present throughout, be it smoke trails from rockets, cloud formation, or semi-abstract shadows. It all adds to the underlying sense that this place, where ever it is, is not quite right. There is a definite sense of discomfort in Shipwreck, which in itself is a draw.
Shipwreck is that most unusual of animals. You are not necessarily reading it because you love it, but more because you love the futility of reading it. You are witnessing a story unfold that you think you’re following, and yet at the same time, you really have no idea where it’s heading or what’s going on. It’s not so much the story that keeps you coming back; it’s the absence of story that is the fixation here. It’s infuriating in its allure, baffling on reading, and satisfyingly insufficient on completion. It’s why you want more.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom.