Primordial continues to be more 2001: A Space Odyssey than X-Files, with Andrea Sorrentino’s artwork tearing itself through a spectrum of style and scope. Issue #2 presents a sort of quick biography of Laika, the terrier/husky mix that the Russians sent to space in 1957. The hard-knock life of one of the many strays of Russia is told in odd, wordless doggie flashbacks, wherein Sorrentino’s usual solid, newsprint-reminiscent artwork grounds us firmly in a sludgy version of the book’s reality, where dark tones imply darker workings.
The primary narrative of the issue, however, goes on in a higher realm of reality, one Laika has broken through in that Kubrick-like cosmic abstraction. Here, the artwork becomes more lifelike, more fully rounded and three dimensional; there is no darkness, here in the cosmic reality, only some form of vast nothingness.
Knowing that the book concerns itself with a long-buried Space Race conspiracy (in this slightly different history of Earth), the fact that the issue barely touches on the human narrative is both surprising and, honestly, a little relieving. It’s an issue that desires to showcase the concept before tying it down with narrative threads.
This is what makes Primordial different from other conspiratorial, alternate Earth stories — the sorts of books that feel mired in the tropes of Cold War espionage and grim, joyless participants. Instead, the book leans into the spectacular, the high concept rather than the down and dirty.
It’s an odd balance, certainly, but it makes the book feel immense and open rather than close and stifling — no matter how many dark secrets are uncovered by our human protagonists, there is something enlightened awaiting our animals (even if, ultimately, a more sinister motive looms behind the enlightenment).
All of these things make the book a unique specimen on the racks, one that uses its second issue to derail any possible expectations set in place by its first. Rather than the grounded questions of a conspiracy — the whys and whos of smothered information — a larger, cosmic question blossoms.
That we live in a period of time in which no such cosmic questions are being asked in relation to space travel — where philosophy does not intersect with very rich people joyriding — only makes the quiet, expansive feeling of the book more powerful. It gives a sense of wonder to the infinite, supplanting the dollar signs of eccentric billionaires.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!