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Advance Review: Great Pacific #1

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Tuesday, November 13 2012 and posted in Reviews
Advance Review: Great Pacific #1

Where you see pollution, Image Comics sees profit. Great Pacific #1 is created by Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo.

Plastic is pretty evil.  It's really just oil and a bunch of other chemicals smashed together into some inalieable form that just doesn't go away.  It biodegrades slowly, if at all, and when it does break down, it pollutes the ground and water around it. As ubiquitous as they are ultimately harmful, consumer grade plastics just may be sending us down the path to environmental ruin (at the very least, they really don't help). 

Thankfully, Chas Worthington has an idea. The son of a late Texas oil billionaire, Chaz seems to be living a life of privileged white adventurism (and he is), but his brand of adventurism can potentially accomplish something.  While gallavanting around the world, Chaz has found time to develop tech that could break down all the plastic and oil polluting the environment and he wants his father's company to market it.  "It doesn't take a bleeding heart to save the world," he tells the chairman of the board, "it takes a profit motive." Going by its first issue, Great Pacific serves as a type of sister title to Matt Hawkings and Rahsan Ekedal's Think Tank, also published by Image. They deal in the same brand of speculative fiction that celebrates the driving spirit and idealism of youth.  Chas Worthington and Think Tank's David Loren are certainly cut from the same cloth; they both have a desire to use the wondrous advanced techology to rebel against the controllers of that technology and, in their eyes, save the world. Both books are compelling looks at ego as the motivation for altruism, since their respective protagonists are as much interested in showing off just what they can do as they are in making their mark on the world. 

It's really no surprise to see Joe Harris, the writer of books like Ghost Projekt and Spontaneous, work in the milieu of modern day problem-solving and grounded science fiction. Harris has brought together a very real problem (if the dire statistics about plastic and the environment presented on the inside front cover of the issue aren't true, well they certainly feel like they are) and a theoretically plausible solution, and then surrounds them with realistic character motivations and consequences. Great Pacific is certainly a power fantasy, but it's the type of thing that doesn't feel completely out of reach or the realm of possibility (on the other hand, there is a two-headed bird in the issue, as well as two people who appear to be hovering above the ground – although they could just be in mid-jump). This grounding is underscored by Martín Morazzo's art, which exhibits strong figure drawing through loose linework and a texture in his color art that recalls Frank Quitely comics. Morazzo's figures are very gestural, and the world is intricately detailed. Morazzo utilizes page width panels throughout the issue. This makes for very boring page design, but the artist at least justifies this "wide-angle lens" approach to visual storytelling by filling his panels with wide vistas and narrative depth. The layout could stand to be pushed into more interesting territory, but Morazzo's use of light and shadow, not to mention his very vibrant color palette, do keep the reader engaged with the issue.

Harris writes a very vital, even provocative, story in Great Pacific #1, one that's actually very contemplative amidst all the corporate malfeasance and intrigue. Chas Worthington doesn't make any of his choices lightly, but he obviously has his reasons to be resolute in his convictions.  He's off to his own island to save the world, in is own way, and Harris approaches that notion with lots of subtext (while Chas and his uncle talk about their plan out on the porch of a large Texas ranch, a staff of black servants clear away their plates from the dinner table – eliminating hydrocarbons won't do anything about class inequality) and also a well-considered sense of foreboding. Chas feels like he has all the answers, and he gets away with a lot of high-risk behavior (including outright theft), but the issue starts with a look two weeks in the future, when  Chas wakes up on a beach of trash and gets accosted by a two-headed bird. It appears he's in over his head.  

Great Pacific #1 is a well-constructed first issue of an intriguing new concept. It's very well-realized and beautifully rendered. Harris and Marozzo spend a lot of time and page space exploring the world and potential consequences of Chas Worthington's story by visitiing a lot of different locations and considering different thematic elements. It's a well-paced read that engages the reader with potent ideas and wonderful artwork. Between this, Think Tank, and The Massive, among other works, It's great to see this type of speculative fiction really coming back to comics.

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