In Review: World Reader #3

World Reader pulls you in and won't let go.

The cover: Instead of encountering peril while reading a world, Sarah places her hand out to touch Paul, someone she cared for that died on Earth. Whether this is actually occurring or is a vision that Sarah is having can only be answered by reading the issue. Juan Doe has created a neat cover with the characters primarily in black with some highlights in hot pink. The space behind and between the two is a flare of cosmic proportions. A good cover, but not the classic retro look of the previous two that I’ve enjoyed. Overall grade: B

The story: This issue reveals some major backstory of protagonist Sarah. The book opens with Sarah looking at a grave surrounded by mourners. “Everyone wants to be special. But there’s a price no one talks about.” What she believes that price is should be discovered while reading this issue and not in a review. After she reveals that price is, the story transitions to the present where she is going out to read planets on her own. The AI Kirby tries to convince to call her team, but she refuses. Kirby tells her that she’ll be safe if she calls the crew back to her. “I don’t want to be safe. I want to be right.” She has a hard landing on the latest world and dons her suit to go outside. She doesn’t know what she’s looking for, but this world might have a clue. An 8 page flashback then begins in Jeff Loveness’s tale, with Sarah realizing her ability at a young age and how one individual helped her manage her power. There’s a terrific moment on Page 6, panel three, where her life changes. Just as this moment of joy is experienced, there are three quick panels that shows the death rattle of Earth. It’s powerful, it’s human, and the final panel on 7 is shocking — It’s understandable, but it’s frightening. The shocks continue at the bottom of 8, with hope beginning again on 9. With her past revealed, allowing the reader to understand her choices, the story returns to the alien world she’s on where she does reads of an incident. How that reading concludes is welcome, the final panel on 15, as is the conversation that follows. This moment of intimacy gives way to a cliffhanger on the final page when something alien is recognized. I’m loving this voyage of one person trying to make a connection with another form of life, when it’s she that is trying to make a connection in her own life. This story is working on several levels. Overall grade: A

The art and colors: This is the first issue to really employ blacks in the visuals, as Juan Doe does strongly on the first page. Such an event warrants the color and sets the somber tone immediately. The interior of Sarah’s ship is seen briefly and it looks great. It has the curved and hard lines of the mother ship to be futuristic yet believable. Kirby appears, too, and he continues to win me over with simple and beautiful designs. Notice how colors soon change. On Page 5 the colors go orange, to designate the flashback starting as well as the tension in one character’s life. When the tone of the story changes on 9 the colors go blue, which mirror the character’s state, though they are also reflective of the military complex, as they’ve been used in previous issues. The bottom of Page 11 has a great five panel sequence set out to show Sarah’s training. There’s narration accompanying the panels, but they don’t explicitly explain what she’s doing — the images are so strong, the text doesn’t need to; the reader can figure out what’s going on. The oranges return on 14 during a stressful situation on a full-paged splash. This is when the visuals of the book go stellar as she reads another planet. The alien world is in pale violets, though it becomes a vibrant, almost neon, at the top panel on 19. There’s no text necessary for this panel because, like 11, the visual supplied by Doe works beautifully. The final page has my only nit for the visuals: it’s so dark it’s difficult to see what’s on the page. I’ve appreciated Doe manipulating the colors to create and enhance the story’s tone, but this is too much. However, this is only on the final page. The other nineteen pages are excellent. Overall grade: B+

The lettering: I can’t sing the praises of Rachel Deering’s text for this series enough. The look of the text is frantic, a little shaky. With this issue, a reader can now understand why all the dialogue of the characters is this way. The font used for Kirby’s speech is futuristic, in a 1980s way, yet it works perfectly for the computer. There are only two sounds in the issue, one for a landing and the other, used twice, for a different kind of arrival toward the end of the issue. This is a book where the lettering definitely enhances the visual experience of the book. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A character’s past is made plain, while a discovery remains unclear. World Reader pulls you in and won’t let go. I eagerly await the next installment. 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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