In Review: World Reader #2

If you're looking for something different in science fiction, you want World Reader. Recommended.

The cover: Sarah is being overwhelmed using her ability to see the dead of a world as they pull at her from above and below like tar. I love the design of everything on this cover by Juan Doe: Sarah looks panicked, the beings that are going after her are a combination of wailing faces and mud, and the background is a simple, yet effective, collection of swirls. The colors are also aces, with the title character a standout in green, the creatures in brown, and the background in oranges. This cover teases the nature of her power and what she sees. Outstanding. Overall grade: A

The story: The first two and half pages from writer Jeff Loveness has Sarah giving her impression on the ancient city of Babel. “For once, humanity had put its demons aide. We united. We worked together. We built something beyond us.” Where Sarah goes next in her analysis is something not considered by most people and it ties in strongly to what she saw last issue: an alien that feeds on worlds. As soon as she makes her conclusion, she wakes up on board her ship with Harris is by her side. She vomits and is notified of doing so by the ship’s AI Kirby. Harris thanks the ship for its obviousness and has it contact Dr. Youssef. Harris asks what happened to her on the planet and she reveals she saw a man in the ether. Before she can go any further, hostile Captain Fields arrives saying she had a seizure that jeopardized their mission to find life on other worlds. Dr. Youseef’s beliefs as to what happened don’t help Sarah’s position either, leading to the World Reader and the captain having an argument that has her confined to the ship for the remainder of the mission. When the ship comes upon a new world, Sarah is not going to stay on the ship and she does something. The protagonist’s drive for answers is strong and her determination to get to the truth, no what how it effects her position, inspiring. What she finds on this world is creepy and cool, with the final two pages again having her as the girl who cried wolf. The conversation between Sarah and Fields is good, justifying why he doesn’t care for her, doesn’t want her on his ship, and what she supposedly does. Kirby is a neat AI, with him being different from the usual mode of science fiction computers. This expands the threat from last issue and reveals why the captain dislikes Sarah. This is fun science fiction. Overall grade: A

The art: Doing both the line art and the colors, Juan Doe makes this book an incredibly memorable reading experience. The two and half pages that focus on Babel start simply with a man creating one of the blocks that will used for the tower. The close-up of him at the bottom of the first page shows him to be sage-like. The second page is a full paged splash of the massive tower. The transition between the fourth and fifth panel is great, with the narration making it incredible smooth and giving the pulling into the space vehicle an ominous tone. I fell in love with Kirby instantly: he’s a simple design and is so unlike all other AI’s I’ve encountered he won me over on the first page he appears. The interiors of the spaceship are incredible; one should take note that not once does Doe have his characters in an empty space — the backgrounds are always rendered, and they look terrific. I love the smooth lines, that one traditionally associates with futuristic spacecraft, but the shadow work on the interiors makes it seem sinister. This really increases the sense of negativity that Sarah is getting from the captain. The colors are also really good on the interiors, being the expected antiseptic cool blues. The only time that Doe gets away from these blues is when Sarah recalls the being that frightened her — that panel goes a hostile orange, and this orange is repeated when she begins her actions on 9, which recalls danger for the reader. The world that Sarah goes to is wonderfully green, but is done in several different shades of the color, making it completely alien. Note should also be taken of the coloring on the final two pages: before Sarah had her reading, she was colored a bright, almost neon, orange, but after she’s read the world her orange has become dampered, showing that her experience has deadened her. Really, really cool. And then there’s the actual reading of the world, which solidifies my opinion of Doe as a master artist; it’s reminiscent of a late 60s-ealy 70s comics, but is completely new. It’s gorgeous. Overall grade: A

The letters: Looking at the credits for this issue, the previous, and Issue #3, I realize that the first issue’s credits were incorrect: Rachel Deering is responsible for the letters and not the colors for this series as it states in Issue #1. I will go back to that review and make a notation of this. With that information now correct, I can say that Deering does an excellent and unusual job on the text. The font she uses looks unlike any other comic published; it’s rougher, but suits the book. It looks more organic, like someone actually hand lettered the comic, as opposed to using a computer. Using such a font makes Sarah comments more human, and that’s one of they key points of this series — her need to understand life and death. There’s also a unique font for Kirby and it looks manufactured, but he’s an AI, so it should look this way. An alien speaks in two panels using its native language and it’s indecipherable, which is how an alien language should be written. Deering compliments the visuals perfectly. Overall grade: A

The final line: You’ve never seen space like this. If you’re looking for something different in science fiction, you want World Reader. The story and art are wonderful. Recommended. 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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