Publisher: Vault Comics
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artwork: Hayden Sherman
Colours: Jason Wordie
Letters: Jim Campbell (letters)
Release Date: 26th September 2018
I’m honestly not sure why it took me so long to sit down and get stuck into the first collected volume of Vault Comics’ Wasted Space. I mean, I really enjoyed the first issue, and the pairing of Michael Moreci (my 2015 BCP “writer of the year”) and Hayden Sherman (a blisteringly talented artist who first grabbed my attention with his work on Image Comics’ The Few) seems custom-built to tick my own personal boxes. However, for whatever reason – too many comics, not enough time, perhaps? – I’ve only just managed to sit down and devour the trade which collects the first five issues of the series. And boy am I kicking myself for not doing it a lot sooner.
On the surface of it, the story is relatively straightforward. Billy Bane has been chosen by the omniscient, godlike “Creator” to be his voice, imparting his words of wisdom to the inhabitants of the universe. The only problem is, his “wisdom” involved endorsing a megalomaniac named Devolous Yam as ‘Galactic Leader’, sparking off a chain reaction which led to widespread genocide, poverty and general fucked-upness. Forced to go into hiding, Billy and his Fuq Bot buddy Rust are tracked down by a young girl called Molly Sue. Molly, you see, has been chosen to be the vision of the Creator, giving people snapshots of the future, for better or worse. And after seeing how things ultimately play out for the universe, she has just one thing in mind – killing Devolous Yam.
This is as raw as sci-fi, gets, with an intentional lack of polish in terms of the gritty, violent universe and its weary, cynical inhabitants. Cribbing heavily from the likes of Star Wars and Bladerunner and blending it all into a fresh and unique creation, Moreci and Sherman work together seamlessly here – alongside colourist Jason Wordie and letterer extraordinaire Jim Campbell – to create a truly striking world. And whether it’s run-down bars, hulking robotic pursuers or ludicrously designed spaceships, the scratchy, kinetic artwork from Sherman gives this book a down-and-dirty feel that really helps to sell the chaos and desperation of the story.
The tone is interesting throughout, mixing dystopian sci-fi with black comedy in a way Tharg himself would be proud of. The back-and-forth dialogue (as well as Billy’s inner monologue) is razor-sharp, with humorous jabs and unobtrusive exposition aplenty, but Moreci still manages to nail the various large-scale dramatic beats that constantly push the story forwards. It’s a series that manages to blend the epic (whole planets literally being destroyed) with the intimate (Billy’s haunted past and reluctance to get involved in the assassination plot) to deliver something truly engrossing.
This five-part volume ends on an absolutely jaw-dropping character moment for Billy, as well as a gentle nudge into the next phase of the story that will likely have readers punching the air with excitement. In the words of Billy himself, “Fuck. Yes.” While I’m still kicking myself for not picking this one up sooner, I’m glad I finally did, and, in a way, consuming the whole thing in a single sitting actually helped the nuance and flow of Moreci and Sherman’s story to really stand out. One of the best sci-fi comics I’ve read in a long time (maybe since Roche Limit, now that you mention it), and a book that deserves to be seen by as many eyes as possible. Highly recommended.