REVIEW: Planetoid #3

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Trying to live on a giant ball of rust ain’t easy and it’s only getting more difficult by the day for a ragtag tribe of survivors. Can ex-soldier Silas lead them to safety or will they be slaughtered by their robot masters? More after the jump.

PLANETOID #3
Writer: Ken Garing
Artist: Ken Garing
Letterer: Ken Garing
Publisher: Image Comics, Inc.
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Planetoid: Former soldier Silas met a young woman named Onica and her alien friend Ebo. Onica, having crashed with her family when she was a child, explained the nature of the unknown planet to a now-stranded Silas. After filling him in on the Ono Mao Republic and the Rovers, robots with a love of genocide, Silas and Onica meet up with a tribe of survivors and, having blown a rover to oblivion, Silas was elected chief, despite still having his sights set on rebuilding a ship and leaving the planet.

IT’S OH SO QUIET…

The tribe of survivors that Silas was left to lead grows bigger every day. After giving a pep-talk about the importance of working together, each person is assigned a different task, whether it is growing food, scavenging or piecing together a ship to escape the rusted planet. Silas also decides to lay down the law where the rovers are concerned, setting boundaries and warning signs against any robot that tries to set foot on the tribe’s territory. However, when a former member of the group returns, the survivors are reminded of the rovers’ deadly seriousness in destroying any life they come across.

What’s most apparent about this particular book is Ken Garing’s usage of time and space: it’s flawless and it’s beautiful. Showing the passage of time without blatantly telling the reader that time has passed is not an easy task. Garing, though, managed to do it with the most minimal of hints. In addition, his choice to give the main characters relatively little to say, even having some not speak at all, helps aid the overall quiet of the book, letting the reader see what’s happening instead of using long-winded commentary. He’s able to take something as simple as making an omelet and still have it make all the difference to the story, saying, without words, “We have food. We are united. We can make it.”

BEAUTIFUL WASTELAND

The narration of this issue is led by its art. In the grand scheme of things, very little happens. The tribe fixes a ship and figures out ways to feed themselves. They learn how to work together and are given a rude awakening at the end. That’s about it. For this issue, unlike the last two, it is all about the art and, frankly, that’s really all it needs.

Using muted tones of gray, black and brown, Garing’s art adds to the deadness of the planet these survivors call home, fitting the world he created just right. When he does introduce color, Garing does so sparingly, using just enough to give the world, and the reader, a glimmer of hope. By introducing the Frogmen, a new alien species, and some of the local vegetation, which is stubbornly thriving despite the rovers’ best efforts, Garing allows for more color, showing a world that is fighting to live… and succeeding.

In the end, it’s the negative space that Garing utilizes so well. He knows when to add detail and, more importantly, when to hold back. It would be easy to try and fill in every bit of rust, oil and scrapped metal, but he manages to illustrate just enough without bombarding the reader with visual overload. It gives the book a clean feeling despite the planet’s squalor and lets the eye focus on what’s important, like the characters and creatures of this world. The wide shots of each panel, including a simple page of a flying kite, bring home a sense of unity and calm amongst the tribe members and, by default, the reader.

BOTTOM LINE: GORGEOUS ART AND PACING

This isn’t the action packed book the first two issues were and that is just fine as far as I’m concerned. While much slower paced, it gives the readers a moment to sit back and take a breath. From every minute detail, such as a woman’s smile or a rover’s helmet, there is always something new to see in every read through. As both the writer and the artist, Garing has achieved a simplicity and beauty that even the most seasoned of writers haven’t begun to scratch the surface of. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Rating: ★★★★½