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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Orbital Vol 2. Ruptures. Sylvain Runberg (Writer), Serge Pelle (Art), Jerome Saincantin (Translator). Cinebok (2009)

A great science fiction adventure story. Caleb,(a human) and Mezoke(a Sandjarr) are agents of an intergalactic diplomatic corps. They are on the planet Senestam to mediate in a dispute between humans and Javlods regarding the mining for the valuable Trelium. There are factions within the human colony on Senestam, within the Javlods and within the diplomatic corps all of whom are pursuing their own agendas. With the human colony under attack from very aggressive insects called Stilvulls, the diplomatic mission becomes increasingly fraught. The plot moves at a fast pace, the reveals are very well staged and the conclusion surprising and satisfying.
As the second part of a story, this book sidesteps most of the continuity problems that bedevil comics. There is enough information provided in a natural and effective way to easily identify all the actors and for the plot to be completely coherent. The story takes great advantage of the possibilities of science fiction, the scope of the story is widespread and the cast varied. The conflict is nicely balanced between local and the galactic. The actual crisis is local and the factors driving it are clearly shown, the political context intertwined with this conflict between two species is nicely displayed. The galactic implications are also shown, scale is an important aspect to the book. The cast, human and non-human, are well developed and very engaging.
The art is a joy, it is detailed and concrete. The locations, on the human colony, a sentient spaceship or the Javlods' home planet are designed to be sufficiently lived in to feel right. The spaces look futuristic and naturally inhabited by the cast. The art provides a solid context for the actions of the cast. The cast are drawn with a quiet expressiveness that is a pleasure to read, they are communicating with body language as easily as with words and this gives the action an edge and force. Thoughtful, articulate, exciting science fiction comic storytelling, bliss.

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