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Review: Spaceman #1

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LOLtron
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Review: Spaceman #1

Postby LOLtron » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:52 pm

It's the debut of an ambitious new science fiction limited series from the creative team of 100 Bullets!



Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:


Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO; Art by EDUARDO RISSO; Cover by DAVE JOHNSON

– the Eisner Award-winning creators of 100 BULLETS – return to Vertigo with a new 9-issue miniseries, kicking off with a debut issue priced at just $1.00!

Set in a post-apocalyptic near future, SPACEMAN tells the story of Orson – a hulking, lonely loser who spends his days collecting scrap metal and dreaming of the startrekking life he was promised.

That is, until he finds himself at the center of a celebrity child kidnapping case. Seeing his chance to be a hero, Orson takes matters into his own hands...but will his actions only cause more heartbreak?

Vertigo 32pg.
Color $1.00 US
Mature Readers
On Sale October 26, 2011



Review:


"It's the same fuck old day it always is."

When they worked on 100 Bullets, Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, and the rest of the creative team immersed their character arcs in a larger societal context, creating a fully-realized world that basically serves as a twisted mirror image of our own.  Now they've done that again, but from a very different perspective, in Spaceman #1, which takes place in a far flung future that may illustrate where we as a society are heading.

The story follows Orson, a poor, primal-looking dreamer who was created in a lab to go to Mars, but is stuck hauling scrap for a mere pittance.  Meanwhile, a young, would-be adopted child/reality show contestant is stolen from a celebrity couple in a case that captivates the nation.  The two storylines chug along through the issue until they converge on the last page, introducing the plot of the nine-issue series after spending a lot of page space introducing the dark messy world of the story and the colorful, off the world characters. 

Orson's life is a pathetic struggle and, even in his imaginations, nothing is easy.  It's a tough world after all, rendered in harsh reds and dank, muddy tones clashing with overbearing shadows.  Eduardo Risso is one of the best visual storytellers in all of comics and Trish Mulvihill complements his sensibilities perfectly.  The sequences on Mars (actually in Orson's head) are wide open and expansive while the earth-bound scenes are tight and almost claustrophobic.  The world just looks so oppressively garish and dark in Spaceman #1 that you can feel the grit and smell the sewage in the water.  It's a lifelike, breathing comic that envelopes you with its story.  Orson himself is quite a creation.  Resembling a humanoid ape at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey, he's a character that seems to personify the failed dreams of the now neutered space program in the US.  Modern thought about space travel, with mythology littered with apes who have been rocketed into the atmosphere, takes on an air of "why bother when there are so many problems here on Earth?" in the minds of many, and this issue taps that vein to great effect. 

Writer Brian Azzarello's greatest gift, aside from thinking about the big picture in his stories, is the way he works with language, and he gets to display that aptitude to great effect here.  The class distinctions and grit of everyday life is built into the lexicon used by all of the characters in the issue.  Orson and the urchins in his company use a dialect that functions similarly to the Nadsat devised by author Anthony Burgess in that each bit of affected speech needs to be read in context to understand its meaning (much like Azzarello's stories on the whole).  It makes for an intense, almost interactive reading experience.

Spaceman #1 is a deep, dense comic that's absolutely thrilling to read.  It takes place in a world that resonates deeply with the modern reader.  It's textured, stylish, and insightful, and if this first issue is any indication, the series looks to be the next great work by this creative team. 





Review by: Royal Nonesuch


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Last edited by LOLtron on Fri Dec 30, 2011 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Review: Spaceman #1

Postby Victorian Squid » Wed Oct 26, 2011 5:56 pm

Can you expand on how you found the linguistic register used here to be 'almost interactive'? What did you mean by that?

Say?

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Re: Review: Spaceman #1

Postby Victorian Squid » Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:01 pm

I found this debut issue to be a frustrating read, and in part because the argot was so inconsistently applied from one sentence to the next. The same character would first say something I'd have to ponder over followed by modern-day English grammar--the effect was stop-start stop-start and it made me grind my teeth through some of the dialogue. It never felt to me like the same consistent rules were being applied, either grammar or slang, like Azzarello didn't go quite far enough with it to really establish it beyond something irritating someone might text-message someone else.

Also, the artwork which you felt was effective in telling the story bollixed me up more than once. I'm just gonna bore you with the two main points of confusion from the art alone. SPOILERS: When the spaceman in the suit (Orson), presumably on Mars, is on his way through the storm his face-plate is cracked severely by a rock and he barely makes it to the door. But when we cut back to the scene, he enters the greenhouse and his face-plate is intact with no cracks. WTF?

Second issue is with the final scene on the water, are there 2 monkeymen in the scene, 3 monkeymen in the scene, or 4 monkeymen in the scene? Because we know we have at least 2, Orson with the hat on, and the scar-faced one-eyed dude with the gun. Additionally, there seems to be a bald guy who dives off the burning wreck. So three, right? But whose face is shown at the bottom of that same page where the guy jumps into the water, the guy with an ear-piece? It can't be the gunman, he doesn't have the scar or milky eye. It can't be Orson, he's wearing no hat. It can't be the guy who dove overboard, he's...not overboard. It may be very simple, I dunno, but I've read it three or four times and got a headache.

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Re: Review: Spaceman #1

Postby jeremy » Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:12 pm

I don't think that "bald guy" was an additional guy, I think just the fact that the one eyed dude was blond haired and at a distance did he look bald in the drawing; but you might be right, could be two guys up there - the bald one and the gunman; I just personally thought it was the one guy aside from Orson the whole time. The earpiece guy was Orson, I figured he just took his hat off in a moment of WTF since the scenes with the hat on close up showed the same green earpiece.

I did notice the cracked helmet disappearing though.

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Re: Review: Spaceman #1

Postby Victorian Squid » Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:19 pm

xaraan wrote:I don't think that "bald guy" was an additional guy, I think just the fact that the one eyed dude was blond haired and at a distance did he look bald in the drawing; but you might be right, could be two guys up there - the bald one and the gunman; I just personally thought it was the one guy aside from Orson the whole time. The earpiece guy was Orson, I figured he just took his hat off in a moment of WTF since the scenes with the hat on close up showed the same green earpiece.

I did notice the cracked helmet disappearing though.


I agree him taking off his hat is the most-likely explanation for that panel, after looking at it again, but I'm still confused who dove off the boat after the explosion then. And besides that, if I assume both of the other panels I'm confused about are Orson, one still has an ear-piece in and one is shown without it in in the same split-second--more inconsistency, and still visually perplexing since the ear-piece is the only visual cue without the hat. So I think there is a third same-looking dude who was wearing the phone without the ear-piece who dove off the boat, my best understanding is there were three dudes and a kid in that scene, but I can't say the artwork made the scene clear at all, if anything the opposite to me. It should have been fairly simple to interpret. The face-plate, I guess that's just a mistake but it's a very, very big one for everyone involved to have missed before going to print.

Add that to the lingo issue and, although I did eventually re-read the book several times to make sense of it, I couldn't get through it in one read the first time through. I just wanted to crumple the book up and throw it across the room. I feel like I wasted my time today going to such lengths just to read some sense into the thing.

(And that doesn't bode well for Vertigo.)

Going into the comic, I was very interested in this book after reading that it was high satire and compared to some great Vertigo books of yesteryear, even though I've never been a big Azzarello fan.

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Re: Review: Spaceman #1

Postby Punchy » Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:17 pm

I mostly bought this because it was only 50p, but I enjoyed it a lot. I’m not the biggest fan of Azzarello, but he’s been impressing me with Wonder Woman and this, whilst very different, was also good. It took me a few pages to get used to the future slang, but once I got it, it worked nicely, and the depiction of the future here is certainly a very interesting. This seems to be pretty similar in some ways to American Flagg! and since that book is one of my all-time favourites, I liked that. The artwork from Risso was of course fantastic, especially his depiction of Orson, the titular Spaceman, he’s a really interesting character to look at, and Risso gives him a pathos and humanity other artists wouldn’t. I’m not sure where this is going, and a 9-issue parody of Brangelina would get old fast, but the flashbacks indicate something a little deeper. I’m in for the next issue, even if it isn’t 50p!

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Re: Review: Spaceman #1

Postby Chris » Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:58 pm

Amazing book.
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