Rating: 4/5 – Two strong narrative stories set in space.
I was provided with a digital review copy of “1 2 Space” consisting of two stories, “The Great Reach” by John Dudley and Timothy O’Briant and “Hold To Release” by Harry Moyer released under the Strips4 website listed above. I have already pre-ordered my copy. I read digital comics as a necessity only but always prefer print. This is the type of comic that longs to be in print. There should be a digital version available at the same time as formal release date (12/31/13).
Given that we have two short stories in this comic, I am left with some deft tap-dancing to provide enough information to review the book yet not spoil the stories. We do have a leg up on the task because some of the creators also contributed to Saddle Sore 2 reviewed here.
The Great Reach features explorer Patrick aboard the Legacy, the flagship of a fleet sent on a multi-generational mission to not only map the far reaches of the Universe but also build transportation gates that will aid the home world (Earth) to travel quickly by going through these gates (and provide a quick return trip home for the fleet). The story starts with the camera above Patrick lying in bed in a very sparse room. Patrick has lost his sense of purpose in his mission, but his sister is still brimming with enthusiasm. The ship has almost no gravity so the crew float through the panels. Patrick’s internal monologue is conducted via caption boxes. It works effectively but the sad old man in me would have loved a return to thought balloons. Still we focus on what is presented and not my demented wish list. This is a momentous day as they have finished the last gate and the next cycle will allow them to return to the Earth. I am sparing you the surprise. The story does not hinge on the surprise as it has more than just a twist ending. Further it goes past foreshadowing given that we open with Patrick’s thoughts noting his, at that point, non-specified troubles. In a very short amount of pages, the two creators give us a fully fleshed out world that is different from our own. I had a feeling of ennui reading the story or perhaps a touch of melancholy. I find myself lingering on some of the pages longer than needed to just read the thing. I enjoyed it despite my inability to articulate more specifics. At first I wondered why they chose the length of the story in the middle pages. Given that a twist is foreshadowed, they could have ended it quicker to give the ending a bigger punch but the extra time in that world ended up giving me more to think about.
Hold To Release brings Harry Moyer back. I normally appreciate his use of screentone but he is restrained in its use in this story. The story is told via static six panel grids with thick borders until the end. Our first panel is all black with a one word location caption box. Then white dots, then white lines with limited dialogue. Our first figure is on the last panel and is only a blue clad gloved hand reaching out. The next page is a reset of the first page. The tension builds. We eventually zoom out to scientists studying microscopic figures. The two scientists have their own politics over and above their mission. This story is even shorter so we will pull a veil over the conclusion of this story. I really enjoyed the set-up and the art in this story. The different scenes have different tones of color. I do have some questions about the conclusion to the story which left me scratching my head but I can look at Harry Moyer pages all day anyway.
Unlike some smaller anthologies both these stories are still narratives which is definitely to my liking. I have tried dipping my toes in the “art-centric comics” world but I seem to like having a solid story in my books. If you pick up a copy, please let me know your thoughts and we can debate the conclusions/twists to the tales.
Reviewed by: Andrew Sanford – firstname.lastname@example.org
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