Comics are constantly looking for ways to re-invent themselves. After all, they’re in direct competition with videogames and movies, all of which, well, move! The question is, how can comic books with stationary art compete with that?
We just might be looking at the future in Faster Than Light, a new title from Image Comics. Apparently, creator Brian Haberlin has been working on this very thing when it comes to comics, and I like it!
Previously in FASTER THAN LIGHT: “The VERY near future: We discover the secret of faster-than-light travel. Suddenly, the universe is wide open to us, all thanks to genius Saul Fredericks, who made the breakthrough and is touted as the Einstein of our era. With the new technology, we hastily refit the nearly complete first manned Mars Explorer spacecraft with faster-than-light engines and boldly go where no man has gone before. A new hope is felt across the planet as the IGS Discovery sets off. But Saul has a dark secret. You see, he’s not the genius everyone believes him to be. He was merely the first to successfully interpret a signal we received from outer space in the 1940s. The message contained every bit of technical knowledge from an advanced alien civilization… and a warning. With all the idealism of the original Star Trek and the grit and immediacy of Gravity, the story of humanity’s first thrilling and terrifying adventures to the stars takes flight! Every issue features Anomaly’s free cutting-edge Augmented Reality app, which makes it look like interactive holograms are coming out of the book!”
SCI-FI AND NEW TECHNOLOGY
There’s no better place to try out new tech than during a science-fiction story, and that’s what happens here.
As with something new, I don’t necessarily understand it all. I openly invite anyone who understands all this better than I do to post your comments below. But here’s what I do get:
In a number of Haberlin’s books, the pages of the comic have considerable amounts of Augmented Reality (AR) in them, which is a way to take those pages and turn them into walking, talking 3D animations leaping off the page!
You can get the iOS or Android App here – then point them at pages on the screen, or print them off and use those.
Of course, the best way for you to see what this means is to do it visually, so check out the video below:
A STRONG STORY
Still, if the story isn’t compelling and the characters believable, it’s like watching a sci-fi movie that has terrific special effects but is saddled with a dumb plot and goofy characters.
Thankfully, this debut issue does a great job of setting up what will be happening in the months to come. I particularly enjoyed the framing sequences around the rest of the issue in which Saul is on a talk show when he disagrees with the host who says he “invented” faster-than-light technology. We sense his reluctance to claim this accomplishment, and makes us unsettled as we read the rest of the book, which focuses on the crew on the ship as it is about to embark on space travel for humanity’s first time.
The people “breathe,” as I like to call it, feeling very human as they deal with various conflicts. My favorite was Commander Grissom, a woman recently demoted from being captain of the vessel yet who still has to perform duties there. She must report to the new captain, who has his own quirks, including “getting the feel for his ship… literally” as he strokes the metal of his command.
The first mission is a vital one, as the crew must find a way to defend humanity from a nasty-looking alien race. Too bad most of the people onboard don’t know that’s what is going on!
This book has one of the drawbacks many first issues have, and that’s needing to do an extensive “info dump” about everyone and most things going on. Still, the dialogue is pretty fast-paced, and we pretty quickly care about most of the people we meet. Liked that all a lot!
GREAT ART, TOO
Even if we didn’t have the AR technology to make things pop off the page, I really liked the artwork in this book. Character expressions, activity and the look of the tech all impressed me.
I really liked the look of the Discovery, which visually makes more sense than many spaceships do in SF. Slender and impressive-looking, the ship gives many in the crew goose bumps, although I’m sure that happens for what it will do as well as how it appears. Segments also can separate and land on planets, something we see happen this month.
The choice of colors in the issue is pretty engaging, too, with most of them in subtle tones that work both in AR and on the page itself.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Exploring the Future
There’s a wonderful quote on one of the initial pages of the book from William S. Boroughs. It reads, “Man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole.”
That seems to be the focus of this title – Can man and woman survive and thrive in outer space, given the perils and problems we’ll encounter there? I’m anxious to see just what this book’s creators think the answer will be!
If you didn’t pick this up at your local comics shop on September 9th, I highly recommend you get the digital version, which is available on comixology.com. Then follow the instructions on the inside of the book to access the AR technology. I liked it, but you should experience it for yourself and see if this is indeed the future of comics we’re all looking at!
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