Cold Space – a mini-series co-written by Samuel L. Jackson – got a fair amount of attention on launch, but how is it doing at the three-quarter mark? Find out my thoughts after the jump!
Cold Space #3 (of 4)
Writers: Samuel L. Jackson and Eric Calderon
Art: Jeremy Rock
Colours: Juan Manuel Tumburús
Letters: Troy Peteri
Editor: Bryce Carlson
Covers: Dave Johnson (Cover A), Jeffrey Spokes (Cover B)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Previously, on Cold Space: Samuel L. Jackson is Mulberry – a space mercenary and criminal in the year 4012. After escaping a messy entanglement with the police, Mulberry crashes on an unidentified moon, where he gets involved in a gang war in the town of El Matador. Both gangs attempt to procure some high-quality rifles Mulberry brought with him, whilst Mulberry himself makes plans with the motorcycle gang that originally found him. The fearsome merc Patience kills Mario, one of the gang leaders, whilst Mulberry confronts the other, GK.
If there’s a Squid in the First Act, it Needs to go off by the End
We open this issue with the ‘Moon Motorcycle Gang’ outside The World’s End Saloon where Mulberry is being confronted. Meanwhile, a man called ‘Doc’ travels to Mulberry’s damaged ship but is apprehended by the Galactic Police. Patience takes control of Mario’s gang whilst Mulberry is over powered by GK’s forces. Patience and company go into the Saloon with goings a-blazin’ and the motorcycle gang move in, to find Mulberry being assaulted by squids.
The plot of this book is a fairly simple one – basically, there’s a lot of fighting between various factions – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We get a lot of cool action scenes, a mix of characters with different motivations, and even some mystery in the form of the squids. The squid part, by the way, isn’t as nonsensical as it sounds – it’s been established GK’s apparent lover has some sort of strange connection with the animals. In fact, my only problem with the plot comes from the fact that it contradicts itself in one area: the motorcycle gang start off expositing that they’re trying to save Mulberry, but by the end of the issue they announce their intention to kill him, and it’s never explained why they change their plan.
I feel, however, that the plot only serves as a backdrop for the interactions between a host of delightfully insane characters. Whether it’s the over-the-top hated of motorcycle gang-member Billy, drug-addicted Zed or homicidal (well, more so than everyone else) Patience the energy – and mania – of these characters jumps right off the page. There are probably at least a dozen character moments in this book that made me smile, and a personal favourite comes when Billy talks about just now much he hates Mulberry, and the other gang members give him a brilliant ‘what the eff?’ look. Such moments also go towards building a significant connection between the reader and these characters, and I found myself genuinely caring about their situations. I found it interesting, as well, that this issue features much less of Samuel L. Jackson’s character than the previous two, and can’t help but feel this is an intentional – and intelligent – move to make us care for the rest of the cast, and it works.
I’d also like to commend this book for dedicating its first page to giving a quick summary of events so far, and of the characters present (in fact, most of the page is dedicated to introducing the characters, which is very fitting for this issue). Normally, I’d probably say something along the lines of, ‘Well, the issue is good, but it’s difficult to recommend because it’s right in the middle of a story line,’ but the first page provides sufficient information to allow a person to jump in (although the squid-part at the end might come as a slight non-sequitur to those who haven’t read the last issue).
There’s a Squid/Ink Joke in here Somewhere
The art has its ups and downs. On the good side, it’s always very fluid and I never had any problems navigating the fight scenes – a must in a book like this where the action is a critical component. A complaint arises, though, in that some of Rock’s people look very similar to one another and this can make the book confusing at times. However, I did like the look of the art and – as I’ve mentioned earlier – we get some great facial expressions. Rock draws some pretty women as well, if you like that in your art. Special mention also goes to the text boxes that Zed narrates: they’re wonky and all over the place and I thought that that were a great little touch that illustrated his drug-addled mind.
Unfortunately, the covers are rather uninspired. Both feature Samuel L. Jackson in various poses and Cover B also features Dee, leader of the motorcycle gang, although apparently even less clothed than she is in the actual book. In fact, I have a problem with the way Dee is drawn on this cover – she wears a skimpy outfit throughout but on the cover she’s sporting a ‘skirt’ that only covers half her arse! What would even be the point in that? To top it off, her neck is also absurdly long. Cover A fares a little better, simply featuring Jackson posing with a bloody sword (not that he actually uses it in the book…) although the angle and dimensions are slightly strange – is he meant to look two-dimensional? Neither are terrible covers, but they’re not to my tastes.
A Whole Lotta Fun
Overall, this is well-done straight science fiction. The plot serves its purpose, the characters are delightfully mad and manage to interest and engage, and the art is pretty despite some hiccups. On the whole, I couldn’t escape the feeling that this book was fun and, though there are some criticisms that can be laid at its door, it was just plain enjoyable to read. I give it three and a half stars out of five and say pick it up if you want something light-hearted amongst your usual books.