Thursday, 20 June 2013

New Beginnings - Wild Blue Yonder #1

About a year ago, Kickstarter featured a new project for a new miniseries entitled Wild Blue Yonder. The title has been in the making for the past three to four years and only turned to crowd funding last year. Coincidentally it was also announced that it would be published by IDW at the same time which may have provoked questions as to why Kickstarter was needed in the first place. To clear up any misconception, this is a creator-owned comic and IDW are simply acting as the publisher. The series story, script and art are from a combination of Mike Raicht, Zack Howard and Austin Harrison.

So what do you get for a handsome total of $12,000 through Kickstarter?

Wild Blue Yonder is an alternative future comic where the world has almost been rendered barren by pollution. This means that for survival the upper crust of the world has headed above the clouds living on huge floating barges. whilst the remaining - less fortunate - of society are left to fend for themselves, as workers supporting them in the vague hope of being escalated to those levels too.

The other aspect is that even this way of living has its price and oil is an even more precious commodity than it already is in today’s society. So when people get wind of an airship, The Dawn, that can run on a combination of solar, magnetic and also hydrogen-based energy, it makes itself a significant target for the comic’s big bad The Judge as well as every other sky jockey and pirate there is.

The story revolves around the teenage pilot Cola (and to a small degree her dog Critter) who is a pilot protecting the Dawn. We are introduced as she looks for a new hired gun and co-pilot following the loss of her previous partner. Part rebellious, part loyal and all kick-ass she is very reminiscent of Tank Girl, albeit less scruffy. Offering the chance to get away from normal life and have a “family” again, Cola finds and pressgangs a young man called Tug, and he is immediately thrown into the world as she sees it. I almost wanted her to reach out proclaiming, “Come with me if you want to live!”

Developing further by showing the troubles that the crew face (and the aftermath seen from the raiding side as well) paints the world as quite bleak regardless of your social status. The Judge is your typical ironfisted military type complete with Nazi overtones in his demeanour and dress (with the exception of his skin) making for a strong character to play off of.

The artwork provided by Zack Howard is really nice. It has plenty of details and good line work without being too clean or over the top. The colouring (Nelson Daniel) also suits the tone of the comic and the whole feel of the ecological premise that the story is set in as well. Although it’s not part of the story for this issue, one of my favourite panels has to be the final page which advertises issue two very well with Scram jetting out of a dirty cloud bank in pose reminiscent of superheroes. It certainly left me wanting to collect them.

As something very new and very different this is a comic that achieves the quite tricky task of bringing something to the table which people will want to follow. I’m looking forward to the series and hoping it continues after the initial issues too. Nice to see Kickstarter paying off for both backers and a wider audience.

Matt Puddy had an interesting discussion on the definition of steampunk this week.

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