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'Primordial' #6 illustrates the subtleties of enlightenment
Image Comics

Comic Books

‘Primordial’ #6 illustrates the subtleties of enlightenment

Primordial #6 carries the payload of the story in a way that couldn’t have been achieved in any other series.

With a silent bang, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s Primordial concludes with its sixth issue this week.

The series, which tells the story of American primates, Russian dogs, and an alternate history wherein the space race ended early and Russia overtook a bulk of Europe (something tragically mirroring modern-day concerns), is, at its roots, a story about change, of growth, and of love.

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SPOILERS AHEAD for Primordial #6!

Primordial #6
Image Comics

Issue #6, however, doesn’t give instruction on the hows and whys of change, instead embracing the abstraction of its central, extraterrestrial oddity-cum-animal shelter to imply a change. In a baffling (if touching) non-move, the book retains its mystery and allure by simply not providing any definite conclusion, leaving not only the ‘meaning’ but the ‘concrete understanding of events’ vague or nonexistent. Able, our rhesus monkey friend, uses something on the ship to do something to Earth.

Primordial #6
Image Comics

In another book, this sort of non-ending might be infuriating, if not a cop-out. In Primordial, however, it only feels part of the package, as if anything more concrete and telling would feel out of place and over-wrought. Primordial has been a book that has all but prided itself in not explaining itself, opting instead for eye-popping visual shifts, big quiet moments, and an implied but unseen political unrest.

What makes the series so great is how much of the story is told in the shifts of Sorrentino’s artwork. There is that flat newsprint feel that denotes the human world of the past, the hyper-real artwork of the animals in their elevated existence in the spacecraft and, here in the final issue, a sort of blending of the two that shows us the grim realities of the current day (which is, in the story, actually slightly in the future).  

Primordial #6
Change.
Image Comics

It’s that artistic shifting that does the heaviest lifting in our conclusion. The flat darkness of our human players and the illuminated realm of our realized animals come to odds, and is in the brightness — and, for lack of a better word, realness — of the world after Able’s actions that tell us the true story: Laika, Able, and Mrs. Baker have brought enlightenment to humankind.

In the end, it’s the subtlety of focus that reveals the truth, a quiet shift that belies something larger. It transforms Primordial from a simple sci-fi oddity into an earnest and singular work of art, and so much of that is left in the hands of one of the most versatile artists working in comics today.

Primordial #6
Image Comics

All in all, Primordial #6 carries the payload of the story in a way that couldn’t have been achieved in any other series.

'Primordial' #6 illustrates the subtleties of enlightenment
‘Primordial’ #6 illustrates the subtleties of enlightenment
Primordial #6
Relying heavily on Sorrentino's incredible flexibility, Primordial #6 uses the smallest change in detail to tell the biggest truth.
Reader Rating1 Vote
8.7
Thought-provoking.
Elegantly told.
Might feel actionless and anticlimactic to some.
8.5
Great

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