Science fiction and horror collide in John Carpenter and Sandy King’s latest series, The Envoy. A three-part series with a story by King and Carpenter, David J. Schow writes with art by Andres Esparza in a story that feels elevated and complex. What The Envoy also gets right is how it combines two kinds of science fiction into what may be a perfect melding of horror and sci-fi.
The story opens in a cemetery at night as many great horror tales begin. It’s no ordinary cemetery, though, and we learn via captions it’s incredibly advanced and serves a purpose beyond harboring bodies. We soon meet the narrator, who speaks to us directly via a camera and details his relationship with a former friend. Both are evolutionarily smart scientists who part ways after making a bet. The story sets up a rivalry many can relate to with college friends and a dichotomy between their science solutions which may not be too far off from one another.
One, named Ben, is studying death. The other, Steven, is studying and solving the cure for cancer.
This issue works well to create a sense of mystery surrounding their sciences and how the supernatural might be closer to both of their discoveries than they want to admit. The characters are well-fleshed out and realized. One can assume some cliches when it comes to the blonde and sharp-looking former friend who wants to make cash hand-over-fist on cancer drugs, while our main character is forlorn after the loss of his wife and wants to find new purpose in his life.
Esparza does a great job capturing the horror element, be it a shadowy figure outside a window or the cold rain pouring down on the characters as they talk inside a limo. Assisted by Oscar Carreno and Montse Esparza, the details are great, with backgrounds setting a mood and atmosphere. Facial expressions keep the characters feeling human and well-rounded. Steven could easily come off as an evil egomaniac, but you can sense his humanity here and there.
There are screens galore in this issue, be it Ben’s small workspace or Steven’s giant laboratory, and they look great.
The big idea introduced at the issue’s start involves Ben’s cemetery project. I gotta say, it’s a clever concept and one that could easily translate into a killer movie or television show. How Ben’s research plays into what Steven is doing is yet to be revealed, but there’s enough introduction here to get your imagination going. Given where this story ends up and the sci-fi revelation, the cemetery element is going to be fun to unpack.
On the reverse side, Steven’s part in his empire is a bit too fuzzy. We’re told he’s smart, but how he got his massive empire isn’t revealed. One has to assume he’s as smart as Ben rather than working with others to build up the science corporation he now runs.
You’ll feel like the future of horror sci-fi comics is bright after reading The Envoy. Introducing complex characters with different kinds of sci-fi, the horror potential of this story is great and shouldn’t be missed.
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