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Friday, November 13, 2015

Alien Hand Syndrome #1. Justin Cappello (Writer and Artist). INSANE COMICS (2015)

A very enjoyable set up for a science fiction adventure story. After a battle in space a severely damaged alien ship arrives on earth with the crew in hibernation while the ship repairs itself after hiding inside a mountain. Thousands of years later a break in at a 'abandoned' military base in Montauk, New York reveals that the base has more life than advertised and certainly many more secrets than had been expected.
Any set up has a number of difficult story problems to solve, the story has to provide enough context and momentum to involve the reader and create enough story possibilities to bring the reader back , all this to be done without revealing too much and reducing the dramatic tension. Justin Cappello has solved these problems rather neatly by splitting the set up into two parts, the space battle and the break in at the military base. Both events are clearly related, both are given the time and space to be interesting in their own right as well as quietly raising questions about the connection that can be fruitfully explored later. The space battle is rock solid space opera, a desperate maneuver that brings victory at a huge cost, the break in is a very nicely set up heist sequence that goes as wrong as it should. The story has enough possibilities to entice the reader to return and see how it will follow on.
The cast are a great science fiction selection, a very clever artistic choice for the aliens ensures that while they are clearly not human, their body language can easily be read and understood. The human cast are nicely varied, only one of them gets much real time, he is an engaging action hero without being a superhero.
The art is very distinctive and a pleasure to read, Justin Cappello can manage a wide screen space battle and hand to hand combat nicely, while the hand to hand combat is slightly stiff, the cast are developed well enough to give the violence weight and force when they collide. The sequence where a severed head is used to open a door is a a piece of smart black humour that gives the story a nice lift.
Context is crucial for science fiction, the look and visual feel must quietly support the science fiction elements of the story and they do so strongly in Alien Hand Syndrome. The interiors of the space ship and the military base are used very well to support and carry the story.
The lettering is easy to read, well positioned in the panels to inform and not distract, the sound effects are a simple joy.
Comics are a natural medium for science fiction with an unlimited budget available for special effects, smart science fiction in any medium is hard, smart science fiction in comics is a substantial pleasure. Alien Hand Syndrome is a smart science fiction comic.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Justin Cappello. If you would like to buy a copy of Alien Hand Syndrome, you should treat yourself to it,it can be purchased at the INSANE COMICS webpage at Copy - $1.49, -Physical Copy - $3.50 .Visit for updates and some behind the scenes information.

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