In Review: The Last Space Race #3

There are some issues with time and character identifications, but enough can be understood to make this a pleasant read.

The cover: A spaceship launches from the bottom center of the book straight up, just about to cross over the title. The left of the image is dominated by a writer, the right has Sasha Balodis suited up for spaceflight. Behind the writer is a violet and blue background holding an immense planet with two holes that resemble eyes. Behind Sasha is a brighter violet full of stars. This is a solid representational cover by Alex Shibao with Natália Marques of what’s to be found in this issue for one of these characters. Overall grade: B+

The story: Far away in space a moon comes into view. Its surface is smooth. It’s soon dwarfed by a larger world that has technology engulfing half of it, as if the Borg have taken it over. “Engines. Distant engines. Engines of consequence. Engines of desire.” Several ships suddenly launch from the technological world. “THEY HAVE WOKEN.” A man sits up in bed, woken by this nightmare. His cat Mirage provides some solace as he tries to make sense of what he’s dreamed. The man gets up from bed and pulls a typewriter out of a closet. He has a title and now it’s time for him to write. Sitting at a desk and looking out a window the moon can be seen and it’s in pieces. “There isn’t much time left. But it’s finally time to write.” Peter Calloway then transitions to what I’m assuming is the past. I’m assuming that the narration that’s accompanying the book from here out is what the writer has created. However, I couldn’t tell you this writer’s name and how far in the future the opening four pages are or how far back the remainder of the book is; dates would have helped tremendously. The writer could be Roger, but he’s so different from how he’s previously been shown I can’t be certain. I have read, and reviewed, the previous two issues, but it’s been a while since the last one and I can’t remember if this individual has appeared before, let alone looking like this. That aside, the story becomes is a little more straightforward with General Denise McMillan answering questions about what the military is doing in space. Sasha and Roger continue to argue how a ship can make it to the alien craft that’s been discovered. However, their arguments become mute with the final panel on Page 7. The three pages that follow show Earth’s reactions and the state of the planet. The story then follows key moments from three characters’ lives who might be passengers aboard the ship that’s going to be sent into space. A name would have helped for the first character, who, again, I don’t recall from previous stories. There was an opportunity to provide names on the final page, but it’s not taken. This was an enjoyable read, but it left me scrambling to figure out who was who and when events were occurring. Overall grade: B-

The art: The first page has the writer’s nightmare shown to the reader and it’s very cinematic: beginning with empty space, then the moon, the moon and the planet, and then the ships launching. Very nice work by Alex Shibao. Page 2 has a great sense of motion as the writer sits up, lays down, and then has a realization. There are enough slight differences between the seven panels to convey movement. Page 4 is a full-paged splash that shows the writer at his desk looking at the broken moon. It’s a neat image, but the moon is so far away from the reader, it has to be examined closely to realize it has been shattered. Better is the project shown at the start of Page 5 and the press briefing, which quickly and smoothly transfers to the scientists. The frustration of the individual who’s tired of the arguing scientists is well done. Pages 8 – 10 are a good montage of how the world is changing, with the latter pair of pages being mirror images of each, though with massive changes. Very cool. The transition between 12 and 13 is good, albeit a starting visual one. I like the transition of time between the second and third panel, with the characters being almost in the same position. The bottom three panels that close the page also excellently show the passage of time. 15 and 16 focus on a new character, again with her distant past and then the present. I really like the smile in the last panel on 16. 17 and 18 focus on another new character, with the reader following him through, sadly, topical territory. The final page is an excellent way to show who’s being considered. Overall grade: A-

The colors: The blues used for space on the first page are well done and give the impression of a cloud slowly making its way through the void. The letters stand out on the opening page because they’re in stark whites. I like how the power has come on in the final panel on the first page, suggesting something has indeed woken. The next three pages have subdued colors from Natália Marques which suit the man alone in his house as he wakes and then moves about. When the writer’s text appears on Page 5 it stands out for being on a light orange that catches the eye. There’s some nice color work at the top of 6 to show that the characters haven’t fully entered the light, as if they’re in the dark about their situation — nicely played. The use of red at the bottom of 8 is the typical color used for actions such as those depicted. The transition of colors at the bottom of 13 are a nice way to show the location of the character. The whites for the environment on 15 carry over onto 16 with what the protagonist is wearing. A solid job. Overall grade: A

The letters: Marshall Dillon is responsible for the opening dramatic text, dialogue, sounds, whispered text, narration from a book, transmissions, television text, screams, yells, one scene setting, positions on the ship, and the three word tease for next issue. There’s a lot of variety in the text of this issue and it all looks good. The opening page has some dramatic text that makes the events of the nightmare especially grandiose. The whispered text is used for tired speech, confidential dialogue, and pleasure. The transmissions look as though they were broadcast mechanically. The television text is in the large blocky letters one would see on any twenty-four hour news channel. I’m liking what Dillon is doing. Overall grade: A

The final line: The story has some issues with time and character identifications, but enough can be understood to make this a pleasant read. The visuals are good, communicating solid emotion from characters, with the colors and letters increasing the impact of each panel. I’m enjoying this series and am anxious to see the final team chosen to go into space. 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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