In Review: The Last Space Race #2

A new character adds new tension to the story and the race has now truly begun.

The cover: A man stands in the desert, a trail of footprints behind him. He’s wearing tan jeans and a white tank top. A red scarf covers his head. He’s checking a device he holds in his hand just as a gust of wind blows. Next to him a metal box is protruding from the sand, smoke coming out of its grating. In the background are two massive pieces of strange machinery partially buried, with the larger one smoking. This man looks to be in trouble. What kind of trouble is unknown, for this scene doesn’t occur in this issue. This cover by Alex Shibao and Natália Marques is fine, but it only teases possible events of things to come. I prefer my covers to represent the story within. Overall grade: B

The story: The cover page to A Mindless Dream of Flight or The Terror of Dying and Not Being Remembered, a memoir by Roger Freeman, opens this issue. It includes a brief summary and two quotes. The second page is just the back side of this cover page. Pages 3 – 7 show how young Freeman’s life was one that he earned, which wasn’t easy, and that he had doubts that his life would only go to a certain point. The story then transitions to the present where Freeman is in a closed door hearing in the Senate being questioned about an existential threat to the United States. He’s stalling in answering the senator’s questions because he’s waiting for someone to arrive. This individual does and his situation changes quickly. I like how writer Peter Calloway introduces Freeman to the reader, in both the past and present. There’s a lot of exposition in this issue, but it’s needed to increase the tension of the story and to prove to the reader how intelligent Freeman is. His interactions with Balodis and McMillan are strong. I liked the no-nonsense attitude of McMillan, which suits her status. I also appreciated how Balodis couldn’t keep up with the other pair, which had him learning, along with the reader, what’s going on. This issue was more tense than the previous issue due to the enormity of the situation fully explained and the addition of Freeman’s character. Overall grade: A 

The art: Alex Shibao’s art begins on Page 3 with a transition from a starry sky revealed not be in the heavens. I like the angle of the panels three through five on the first page, giving everything a cockeyed point of view, which increases the emotion of the dialogue being overheard. The final two panels on Page 4 are painful to look at and this tone increases on the next page as the character’s ascension begins. The panels that chart his path increase the tone well. 6’s panels age the character well while continuing the same action. The large panel on 7 is a solid visual for what’s going through the character’s mind and it becomes somewhat humorous when the reality of his situation is revealed at the bottom of the page. On 8 and 9 when characters of authority are given the focus over Freeman the panels go askew, suggesting that they’re not in line with his positions. Whether this was intended or not, it came off that way to me. I’m really impressed with the scenes in the vehicle as there’s a ton of dialogue given. A ton. It was impressive to see Shibao leave enough space for Dillon, the letterer, to insert the dialogue without stepping on the art. This is a sign of an artist who knows what he’s doing. Pages 12 and 13 have no dialogue, relying wholly on Shibao to tell the story through the reader. If the reader is paying attention, they will be able to pick up on the clue on 12 that justifies the action on 13. These pages were very active and spoke volumes of the individual shown. I liked the design of the ship on 14 and 15. Often stories involving space travel that’s not too far in the future go overboard with their design, bordering on the improbable, but the design of the ship seems possible even with today’s technology and I appreciated that. The slight different between panels four and five on 15 was great, for it was a little thing that made all the difference. The final two pages of the book is a double-paged splash revealing the goal of this series and the reason for all the action. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but isn’t that what it should be — something not expected? I was a little underwhelmed by its design, but future issues and closer views could change my mind. Overall grade: A- 

The colors: There are no showy colors in this issue from Natália Marques. Everything is colored realistically, giving this book the reality it needs to be believed as current. The transition from the violet-blues of the first two panels to just light blues is well done, with that final color rightfully helping to create the night and to symbolize the focused character’s mood. The large object that appears on Page 7 is a metallic gold, which is the brightest thing seen so far in this issue: it truly does represent an unknown goal that the character seeks. Page 10 has a nice lighting effect done in the interior of the car as the characters begin their journey. Shadows are created with a neat coloring job on 13, increasing the reality of the situation. It’s a little thing, but I’m glad these shadows weren’t outlined, which would have made them unrealistic. When a character puts on their flight helmet the colors nicely dim behind it and the when the engines are started on a ship panels four and five on 15 also contribute to the realism. I like the color on the sound in that final panel to draw attention to it and the visual action. Notice how the colors on 16 carry through onto 17 for the sunset out the windows. Slick job. I’m liking what Marques is doing. Overall grade: A

The letters: Marshall Dillon is the creator of this issue’s faux book pages, distance speech, narration, dialogue, signage, sounds, a typed note, transmissions, and the three word tease for next issue. Dillon gets to do a lot of different designs in this issue beginning with the faux book pages. This looks like what a book’s first page would be, with several varied fonts to grab the reader’s eyes. The distance speech is a smaller version of regular dialogue, but its size implies that it can barely be heard. Nice. The narration that accompanies Freeman on 6 and 7 is very cool, especially with the way it’s not in a straight line. The sounds are important in this issue, especially on Pages 15 and 16. I also have to give a shout out to the final three words of the issue that look as thought they belong on a government letter, which thematically continues what the thrust of this issue was. Overall grade: A

The final line: A new character adds new tension to the story and the race has now truly begun. I like all the teases and justifications for the race stated in the story and that it didn’t come off as information dumps at any time. An impressive feat from Calloway. The visuals are also good, with some impressive work done with layouts and actions. The colors add to the reality of the story and even the letters assist the visuals while telling the story. This is a great read. More, please. Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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