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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Orbital Vol. 1. Scars. Sylvian Runberg (Writer), Serge Pelle (Artist), Cinebook (2009)

A very entertaining space opera that sets up a varied and interesting set of possible story threads to follow up in later volumes. While a conference on Earth meets to consider joining an intergalactic alliance, a party opposed to joining attack the conference killing all the attendees including the parents of Caleb and Kristina. Some years later Caleb is a candidate to join the diplomatic agency of the federation and he is paired with Mezoke, Sandjarr, a race that had just finished a devastating war with humanity. Caleb an Mezoke are sent to the Senestam to resolve escalating tension between a human colony and the native Javlods over mining activity. The multiple threads in the story are well introduced and the political and social tensions are nicely revealed, with a well timed cliffhanger closing the volume.

This is very well crafted, classical space opera. A huge context, an intergalactic federation that has been in existence for thousands of years, is carefully balanced against smaller scale political issues that exist on Earth and on Upsall with the Javlod population. There is a suggestion that these local tensions are tied directly to greater political currents within the federation and this gives the mission a nice set of layers to it. The cast are well defined and move with force and purpose. This volume is mostly concerned with set up, it manages to convey the information in a logical way that moves the story forward rather than slowing it down.

The art is slightly subdued, the colouring cool and there are no splash pages, the panels are varied and match the pacing of the story. The physical context for the story are very well done with an effective mix of detail and blur that suggest the alien and the long established at the same time. The cast are very well defined with the body language well expressed. First rate adventure science fiction.

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