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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Comic Spotlight Review: Void

One of my favorite things about comic books is the joy in finding something not quite well-known, usually a stand-alone graphic novel, that is just different than your average Wednesday fare. In my experience, my favorite of these kinds of books come in the form of science-fiction, and that's what we have here: Herik Hanna writes a short space travel story illustrated by the masterful Sean Phillips.

The story starts in-medias-res, with the central character John left as the only survivor of the crazed Colonel Mercer's bloody massacre. As the story progresses, we learn that this is a prison ship, with John as one of the inmates. When the ship was nearly destroyed by a meteor shower, the prisoners were freed so they could survive, but the brutal Mercer wouldn't allow guilty men to go free, under any circumstances. His bloodlust soon turns against his own crew as well, who wish to let the prisoners use the escape pods.

John begins to lose his mind as he tries to find a way off the ship without running into Mercer. There are some nice creepy bits, such as John's high school sweetheart appearing naked and leading him astray, but the hallucinations conceit is a bit overdone. By the end, John is seeing circus folk. What starts as a nice way to illustrate the terrifying effects of isolation eventually become tiresome. Worse though is that about halfway through, it becomes abundantly clear that there's a twist coming, one that is as predictable as it is cliché. While I'm not wholly against twists, and even knowing the twist before it happens isn't always a dealbreaker, this one just sort of soils what starts as a very engaging story.

Unsurprisingly, the art by Phillips is very well done. His level of detail lends itself very well to spaceship interiors, as well as his wonderfully dark tone. The oversized pages allow the very short story some space to breathe, with some nice layouts with silent montage panels. As with his Marvel Zombies work, the bloody moments are appropriately gut-wrenching and horrific, and he does an excellent job giving the story a great classic sci-fi feel.

There are definitely some story resolution problems here, but the concept and the visual execution are pretty spot on. At only $9.99 for a thin but oversized hardback, it's worth a read for the fan of classic sci-fi and for Phillip's always outstanding art. Hanna shows some promise here as a relative newcomer to comics, but just relies too much on overdone genre tropes.
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