Sunday, 21 October 2012


A masterpiece in the making?

Among others, writer Vaughan was responsible for the lengthy and deservedly highly praised series Y:The Last Man and the shorter and deservedly less praised (though it wasn't bad by any means) Ex Machina. On the basis of this first volume, he's written his finest work so far, if he doesn't fuck it up as he did with Ex Machina and, to a far lesser extent, with the inevitably anti-climatic end to Y.

I got to the end of this book, put it down, and said aloud, "Wow!"

The plot is simple: two mismatched lovers (he's a pacificist vegetarian magic-user, she isn't) from societies at war with each other are on the run (with their newly born baby) from both sides.

But that's the only thing that's simple. She comes from Landfall, a giant planet and he comes from Wreath, Landfall's very large moon. Rather than destroy each other's worlds, both societies take the battle out into the galaxy and hire other races to help fight their enemy. Most of the races seem to have some human-like resemblance but whether or not this is far future and we're seeing a diverse and vastly diverged humanity or just aliens isn't clear. Even the use of some familiar personal names (like Hazel) may be just a means to ease the reader into the story.

The background is potentially very complicated but Vaughan skillfully (greatly aided by the attractive clean-lined quality of Staples' art) and accessibly establishes the scenario and the characters, both lead and supporting. Our two heroes are very engaging and likeable and all the supporting characters are interesting (such as the hired assassin who will kill children for pay but hates paedophiles; he also has a psychic felinoid). There are no captions and all the narrative is conveyed by dialogue except for the occasional comments by a grown up version of the baby which are woven into the panels in which they occur rather than the conventional box and this works really well.

This isn't kids stuff. It if was a DVD it'd be rated 18 for explicit scenes of a sexual nature, frequent use of (bad) language, nudity, and graphic violence. It's also often funny and, just as often, touching.

The potential of this series is enormous and, from the title, we're in for a long run. 

Side note for Science Fiction buffs: this is wide-screen Baroque SF at its best. Resist that come on if you can.

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