While we remain indoors, why not take the time to read some graphic novels you might have missed in the last year? TKO Studios is one of the most interesting new publishers to hit the scene and possibly one of their most enticing is Sentient by Jeff Lemire and
Gabriel Hernandez Walta. It’s also an apt series as it’s all about a group of people trapped on a spaceship as they wait to arrive on a brand new planet for humanity or prosper on. Relatable during these pandemic times.
This is without a doubt one of the most addictive comic books I’ve ever read. Lemire and Walta instantly draw you into a world that is highly relatable. Humanity has trashed Earth and they’re attempting to repopulate on a faraway planet. There are of course many who wish to start anew on Earth, while others want to continue on with their governments and way of life. This conflict ends up affecting those on one of the most recent ships to shove off for the new planet. On this ship are families of all sorts and many children as well as a computer A.I. named Val. I won’t spoil a thing, but this story creates an insane amount of conflict for the protagonists to overcome as they drift off to their new world.
If you’re a fan of movies like 2001: Space Odyssey or Moon you’re going to love the personality of Val and the computer’s interactions with characters. This computer is a character you’ll grow to like, relate to, and even feel for. It’s trying to do its best, but under the circumstances, it was never programmed for what it must endure to keep its inhabitants safe. Lemire and Walta do a great job capturing the symbolic nature of the characters living inside the ship which is also Val, and in a sense, its mother. Val is a womb of sorts and she’s trying to keep her human occupants alive because that is her main directive.
Designed as a graphic novel with single issues within, this book reads in an episodic manner, further making it incredibly addictive. It doesn’t recap as much as a conventional comic book series does, but it does end each of its six chapters with an incredible cliffhanger and in the end an equally incredible ending.
Walta’s art is very well done here, from the spaceship to the characters. There’s a level of realism when it comes to violence that makes this a borderline horror comic. Psychological horror is very real and intense in this book, and you feel it in how Walta frames and paces the story. You also get that from the character acting as well. It was hard to put this book down knowing we won’t get to experience these characters anymore. Val, in particular, is one I miss to this day.
This is one of the most rewarding comic book reading experiences I’ve had of all time. I couldn’t put this book down for a second, my heart literally raced as tensions rise, and I felt deeply for a computer A.I. that is as human as any character in the book. Science fiction is a favorite of mine and this book is clearly in my top five all-time favorite stories in the genre ever.
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