It has been over a decade since the aliens came to Earth, but life still goes on, in its fashion. The only real evidence of change are The Trees… Your Major Spoilers review of Trees #2 awaits!
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Jason Howard
Colorist: Jason Howard
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Trees: Ten years ago, they came, and the people of Earth were stunned to find evidence that intelligent life existed elsewhere in the universe. Unfortunately for many, whatever manner of creature has come to our world, they do not recognize us as intelligent, or indeed, as anything more than vermin in their path. The Trees, immense spires of unknown composition, have stabbed in and through the cities and towns of what used to be our world, but life beneath them goes on…
A VERY STRONG PREMISE
Last issue, Ellis and Howard opened things with a bang, as alien conveyances thundered down to Earth, sending everyone into a panic. I had worried that we’d be looking at another massive alien-invasion plot (not that that’s a bad thing), but Ellis suddenly jumped forward in time ten years, and showed us a world where the Trees were just a fact of life. There’s one in Manhattan, another in Beijing, and the issue jumped about giving us momentary vignettes of people living their lives in the shadow of Proof Of Alien LIfe. This issue opens with a continuation of one of those threads, picking up with the team of scientists living at the base of one of the Trees, deep in frozen lands of the Arctic. A strange group of impossible flowers is growing in the shadow of the Tree, but the real fun is had in the interactions between the scientists. Ellis creates each as a fully realized character, and Jason Howard’s design work makes it easy to tell who is who, and creates a quiet tone of oppression and fear that reminds me of the John Carpenter version of ‘The Thing.’ Interestingly, this issue doesn’t revisit the New York or China sequences from last issue, instead opening new stories, in Greece and in Mogadishu, each of which deepens our understanding of what the Trees have done to human interactions, and helping us to understand how the entire world has been reshaped by whatever they are.
A MASSIVE GLOBAL CANVAS
I really enjoy the way these stories are presented. I almost said “intertwine”, but they really don’t do that, as each is a separate reality, but each is filled with characters who behave logically and understandably within their own perspective. The President of one country wants to use his local Tree as a staging ground to observe and attack his long-time foes. In short, people are still people, even if giant extraterrestrial pylons are shoved right through the middle of their life. I like Jason Howard’s work in this issue, and I enjoy the coloring even more, as it enhances the intentionally simple linework and gives it a realism (though not photo-realism) that fits the story well. There are mysteries within mysteries to be explored, but it’s telling that most people are only interested in The Trees as they affect their personal fortunes, be they political in nature, or just the chance at “more” for themselves. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this story based on the previews and such, but I’m fascinated by this world and the people in it. Warren Ellis is a skilled enough storyteller that he could continue adding characters and settings every issue for the entire run of the book, and I think it would only get more interesting…
THE BOTTOM LINE: EERIE AND EFFECTIVE
There is a LOT going on in the shadows of The Trees, and it’s clear that this creative team is thinking about a lot more than just the alleys of Gotham City or the rundown prisons of Georgia. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with a contained story, but this book seems ready to show us every aspect of a world that has been changed by first contact, and it all follows perfectly from what we’re shown. This issue ends with a very ominous final panel, one that is clearly going to have long-lasting ramifications on the world, and while I have NO idea what it all means, I’m keen to come back next issue and find out more. The Trees #2 is the kind of story that can pretty much only be told in a creator-owned book, with a hugely entertaining premise, great character work and excellent art, earning a very impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. I am of the opinion that you need to check this one out, post-haste…