The creators of 100 Bullets are back with another creator-owned comic for Vertigo. Does Spaceman #1 have the right stuff to get off the launch pad?
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso
Color by Patricia Mulvihill & Giulia Brusco
Letters by Clem Robins
Edited by Mark Doyle & Will Dennis
Cover by Dave Johnson
Azzarello and Risso’s latest debut for the Vertigo imprint is nothing short of stunning. Priced at a dollar, there is no reason not to pick this issue up. Spaceman #1 presents a gnarly, ugly future where the ice caps have melted, reality TV rules the airwaves, the space program is grounded and textspeak is the new patois of the underclass. (Wait a minute, none of that is far-fetched at all!) Our protagonist in this brave new world is Orson, a rather simian fellow genetically-engineered for a NASA Mars mission that never happened. Left to his own devices, Orson whiles away the time buying drugs from little kids, engaging in virtual reality webcam sex chats and salvaging junk from pirate-ridden flood zones.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
There’s another story running parallel to Orson’s, centered on a Jolie/Pitt-esque famous first family of reality television. One of their multi-cultural adopted children has been kidnapped – a plotline that will intersects with our erstwhile wannabe cosmonaut’s by issue’s end.
Brian Azzarello usually shows a deft hand with dialogue, and his writing on Spaceman is no different. He’s pulling a low-grade Clockwork Orange bit, making his own Nadsat out of our current cultural predilection for abbreviations and texting language (and it works). Azzarrello has also created a compelling protagonist. In an interesting twist, Orson isn’t the handsome lantern-jawed astronaut of typical depictions; rather, he’s almost Neanderthal-esque. Orson’s entire reason for existence has been taken from him, and his struggle for existence while maintaining faith is palpably felt.
A CASE WHERE THE ART MATCHES THE WORDS
Eduardo Risso’s art is bold and confident. The dystopian setting allows him to show more verve than in 100 Bullets. The drowned cityscapes and jury-rigged machinery are highlighted by washes of color and blunt, broad shadows. Risso crafts a world that feels lived in, but worn thin, reflecting Orson’s stunted dreams. Dave Johnson’s cover also deserves a shout-out – it’s beautifully retro, and evokes the feel of the comic.
BOTTOM LINE: COSTS LESS THAN A BUS RIDE
Spaceman #1 is a fantastic first issue. Appealing both visually and intellectually, Azzarello and Risso have created a comic book that pops from the first page, building an engaging new world while promising a great story to come. With an asking price of a single dollar, there isn’t a better value in town. Spaceman #1 scores a perfect five out of five stars. Check it out.