In Review: World Reader #1

Trippy, cool, scary, and cosmic awesomeness. Recommended reading.

The covers: Sarah seems to be going into Dave Bowman territory on the Regular cover by interior artist Juan Doe. Floating forward in space, Sarah is using her abilities to tap into a planet’s past and in doing so is lifted to a different state of being. Her head has become pure energy as she witnesses the history of a world. Outstanding imagery that would make an outstanding poster, print, or tee shirt. The Variant cover is by Elizabeth Torque and is a tight close up of Sarah’s helmet with the young astronaut’s view reflected onto her visor: she’s reaching out toward an Earth-like planet. Her face is amazing and the reflection outstanding. Though not as trippy as the Regular cover, it is certainly cosmic. Overall grades: Both A

The story: Making her way over a rocky crest on a deserted planet, Sarah looks down into a valley and sees the ruins of ancient civilization. She carefully makes her way down to the first street and thinks, ‘I never get used to it. Another dead world. Just like all the others. Are we really the last ones left? And if so…what happened? Who lived here? What did they believe? Who did they love? Guess that’s where I come in.’ Using her abilities, Sarah drops to one knee and enters another state of existence, almost as if she were astral projecting herself, allowing her to see the past of a world. She is, indeed, a World Reader. She walks among the aliens, gleaning their thoughts and lives. What she discovers does not please Captain Fields, but does gain sympathy from fellow astronaut Harris. It is through his words that Sarah is given another chance to read the world and that’s when she discovers something terrible. This is a quick read by Jeff Loveness, but memorable. This issue gives a brief establishment of the human characters, with most of the focus given to what Sarah can do and what she ultimately sees. Her second “read” of the planet gives her more information, but introduces the antagonist that looks to be this series’ threat. I like the set up, Sarah’s skills, and the menace that’s shown, but would like to see more of the dynamics among the humans. This is only the first issue, designed to create interest, and Loveness has done that for me. I’m on board for the foreseeable future, and what a strange, cool future this is! Overall grade: A

The art: Juan Doe is making this woman’s journey incredible to look upon. The time period is undefined, but in the future when mankind has gone to the stars. The design of the astronauts’ suits is futuristic and not improbable. The double-paged splash of Pages 2 and 3 is a nice introduction to the first alien world that this series is sure to go to. It’s in ruins, much like ancient Rome: there’s no technology to latch onto, just the civilization’s remaining structures. I was already hooked onto what Doe was doing, but then Sarah went to read the world and the book’s visual’s kicked up incredibly. The style that Doe is using for these pages is similar to the work done in 1960’s comics or rock promotional posters from the same decade. Ever look at the classic Jim Steranko S.H.I.E.L.D. comics? This comic has that level of strange/trippiness magnified by ten. When Sarah launches herself out of her body on 5 it’s amazing, with the background in a kaleidoscope pattern. Her second read of the planet is even wilder, with the backgrounds reminding one of a lava lamp’s interior. Starting on 12 the story follows one denizen of the world, with Sarah absent. This creature’s life is told in only four pages but it’s devastating with how Doe tells the tale. The splash on 17 is the “Uh-oh” moment of the book, where something is encountered and it’s ghoulish. Its design lives up to its actions as it does something horrifying on 18, and the terror ramps up after that. There is no credited letterer on this book’s inside front cover, so I’m going to assume that Doe is adding this element. He creates dialogue and transmissions between the astronauts and they are little rougher than the usual letters one finds in most comics, but they tell the story finely. Overall grade: A

The colors: Without a doubt, the coloring of Rachel Deering solidifies the trippy tone of the visuals. The color pink is used for a dominate shade on the alien world. This is not a color often used, but it gives the planet a warm, friendly feel, even if the world is a dead one. Before she leaves her body, blues spring to life, creating a sadness for what’s to come. She becomes neon pink in the past, while light blues show the lives of the inhabitants. Captain Fields is given dark reds for the two panels he’s shown, emphasizing his hostile nature toward Sarah. During her second read, Sarah maintains her pinkish hue, but the alien whose life she’s latched onto makes the past a harsh red and violet, to match the actions it encounters. Sick blues and greens comprise Pages 17 – 19 for the threat, and they amplify the horror well. Deering deserves just as much praise as Doe for her contributions to this book. Overall grade: A

The final line: Trippy, cool, scary, and cosmic awesomeness. Recommended reading. AfterShock Comics has created another winner. Overall grade: A

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Correction: June 16, 2017: Having read the second and third issue of this series, I’ve discovered that the credits in the first issue were incorrect. Rachel Deering is the letterer of the book, not the colorist. Therefore, my comments regarding the colors of this issue should be credited to Juan Doe and the comments regarding the letters to Ms. Deering.

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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