Published on December 23rd, 2015 | by JCDoyle0
Venus #1 Review
Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy details the political and social problems that arise when travelling and attempting to colonise another planet, Boom! Studios Venus has a similar feel to it, although on a somewhat smaller scale.
The reader is thrown straight into a traumatic set piece with the spacecraft Mayflower already facing a dire situation. There is no time to get comfortable with Venus as the very first page gives you a hold full of floating bodies with absolutely no explanation. You’re in the thick of it and faced with some fairly disturbing panels.
Rick Loverd chucks the reader directly into the chaos. He doesn’t mollycoddle you and reassure you, he makes it clear that this is going to be a difficult ride. Huang Danlan’s art fixes this impression with disorientating backgrounds and unsettling figure work.
Even when it calms down and the Venus expedition manages to land on the planet there is an overriding sense of impending doom. The desperation in the characters is clearly portrayed and the constant conflict between the new Captain-by-default and several other members of the crew just adds to an already tense situation.
Loverd uses the disaster and immediacy of the situation to lead the reader around the crew, introducing them and laying the groundwork for future development. There are a handful of characters who have pivotal roles within the narrative and it’s obvious who they are and what they stand for. Loverd lays it all out for you while at the same time moving the plot along at a fairly hefty speed.
But it’s not the engaging characters that are most impressive about this first issue; that would be the setting. Between them, Loverd and Danlan have created a very believable and terrifying location for their story. Just like Robinson’s Mars stories, it appears that the Science behind Venus has to be as realistic as possible; the harsh landscape and the equipment the characters have with them are more than just plot devices but serve a realistic purpose. Also the narrative and environment are so closely linked, from the chaos of the opening scene reflected in the storm the crew encounter on the surface to the unstable landscape that the Mayflower lands used as a metaphor for the relationships between the desperate crew members.
This first issue is heavy on the science and focuses on the human need for conflict so much so that it overshadows the frontiersman spirit of the characters journey. What is promised in the voice over speech from the first few pages is almost swept away by the ending of part one but then again the images at the beginning showed you that this wasn’t going to be a happy stroll through the park.
There is a lot going on with a massive mystery feeding the narrative from the very beginning but at no point do the creators allow the reader to get out of their depth. It’s like a mix between an Arthur C Clarke story and the movie Event Horizon; it’s unnerving, even disturbing, but at the same time grounded in reality. For a first issue this is a blinder.
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writer: Rick Loverd
Artist: Huang Danlan
Colours: Marcio Menyz