Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer: Peter Calloway
Artist: Alex Shibao
Colours: Natalia Marques
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Release Date: 10th October 2018
When given the opportunity to take a gander at an advance copy of The Last Space Race I jumped at the chance. Science fiction and fantasy stories have always been my bag, but science fiction mysteries and thrillers have a particular appeal. We’ve been spoiled for choice in recent years in everything from novels to TV adaptations, but you can never have too much of a good thing right?
The premise of this new AfterShock series is relatively simple. A massive (like, the size of a city massive) object is detected in the outer solar system near Saturn which defies all accepted categorisation. Given its movement and energy signatures, certain assumptions are made, and it’s clear that the first to reach the object will be the first to reap any rewards; hence the title. Enter a tech savvy billionaire, scientists, government types and the hints of mystery and you’ve got yourself a story.
Overall I’m pretty positive about this new series. A good benchmark for me is my reaction to the last panel. On first reading, I zipped through this and was like ‘Oh, that’s it? Where’s the rest?’ As I’ve said, I love a good slow-paced science fiction mystery novel but to bring that to a comic and shift gears while still keeping me in the zone for the journey ticks the boxes. If the goal of a first issue is to get your buy in, then The Last Space Race does that just fine.
To bring some balance though, I’m cautious as to how I’d receive this were I not such a fan of the genre. The opening, which looks the absolute business, getting a big thumbs up for space suit design and the neat touches on the text boxes, was just a bit too clichéd for me. In just in the last month have I encountered pretty much the same set up, albeit in a TV show. In fairness, this opening disarmed me for the following scenes which… actually no, that’s probably spoiler territory.
The character focus in this first issue is quite rightly centred on Sasha Balodis, the aforementioned tech savvy billionaire. Far from falling into the easy trap of two-dimensional plot passenger, Balodis brings a balance of playboy and dark past. The troubled nightmare seems out of place but brings the issue back to a more ominous baseline and stops this from racing into a light-hearted action romp. There’s a cinematic quality here and the characterisations and dialogue are such that it doesn’t take too much of a stretch to picture this on the small screen.
The Last Space Race combines good art and a good, albeit familiar, premise into an easy read. Fans of the genre will no doubt like this and be eager to pick up subsequent issues. Assuming the team keep the momentum going with the right amount of twists, turns and revelations, I think this will become one to get on-board with.
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster