Coming out May 27th (though it appears to have a shifting date due to the pandemic), Cullen Bunn and Andy MacDonald are transporting us to a rogue planet, which is defined as a planet that has been ejected from the planetary system. That’s a slightly haunting idea in itself, but when you get a look at the horrors at work in this series you will realize you haven’t seen anything yet. From Oni Press, the new series aims to capture the eclectic personalities of those who do dangerous work in space.
I’ve read my fair share of space horror comics (Delta 13, and The Disciples come to mind) over the years, and yet there are elements in this first issue you don’t normally see. Bunn has done good work capturing different personalities on the crew of the Cortés (a name for a ship that is harrowing in itself given it’s likely based on the Spanish Conquistador, who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire) making the crew seem plausible.
So often with these space sci-fi horror stories, the crew can be archetypes and cliches of the typical crew. Not so here. They are all on a mission that may or may not be above board, but they’re more or less in it together like any work-based team would be. The first issue takes you to a few different locations and features some interesting sci-fi ideas on board the ship, a strange alien world, and more importantly, plenty to dig into and immerse yourself in.
Rogue Planet offers up a lot of ideas
There’s nothing like the adventure of exploring new ideas when it comes to sci-fi, and there are a few here. I won’t spoil a single one, but hypersleep is done in a different sort of way here that gets your imagination going. There is also an alien lifeform designed by MacDonald that is bonkers and more frightening than you’ve ever seen in any film (I’m looking at you, The Thing).
By the end of the narrative, you’ll feel like you know these characters well enough to care about them, but more importantly, you’ll want to explore the strange mysteries with them with issue #2. You’ll also want to put this book down so as to catch your breath. The monsters are that traumatizing.
The art by MacDonald, with colors by Nick Filardi, is well done. The details in the technology — monitors, space suits, etc — is believable and well done. Alien lifeforms are curious and familiar, yet also very original. The characters themselves are ever so slightly cartoony in nature and rendered well so they’re distinct from each other. Color is used well to make scene changes feel different from each other. There is good attention to detail in the monster too, which further makes it grotesque thanks to the color and detail.
One gripe I had, which is usually a good thing, is how the narrative may be rushing ahead too quickly. A lot is shown and said from a flashback, we meet the entire crew, and then they go on a mission and encounter some messed up stuff. By the end of the book, I wasn’t sure how much danger the crew was in as things rushed ahead so quickly. Maybe if the story did a check-in with the spaceship the crew landed on, it might have helped add context as to how much these characters’ backs are against the wall. From what I can gather they may be able to turn around and run, but that’s unclear. It’s too early to know, but maybe this issue could have been spread over two.
I had a blast with this first issue. It gets you excited for more deep-space horror. The mysteries at work are unique and creative enough to capture your interest and make you want to learn more. The crew is also well rendered, making them feel realistic and different from each other and other space horror narratives that have come before it.
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