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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

One Way. Christopher Baldwin (Writer & Art). Good Port Publishing (2016)

A glorious and engaging romantic science fiction comic. A space ship is sent on a voyage to make the first human contact with an alien race. The crew are the most skilled and expendable in the fleet and it is clear from the outset that there is a strong possibility that it will be a one way voyage. Trouble starts early and continues right up to the unexpected, heartfelt and utterly satisfying conclusion.
Christopher Baldwin takes the genre standard for a disaster story, a eccentric group of people in a confined space becoming involved in an escalating disaster and gives it a big heart and lashings of humour.
The crew introduce themselves neatly as they start off on their journey, they have a nice range of characters in the cast and they strike off each other with great style and spark. When the first major incident occurs the cast start to reveal themselves and it is this process that continues through the rest of the story. Christopher Baldwin uses the genre staples with care and wit and at the same time carefully unwinds them to find the blood and bones of the humans hiding behind the roles they have given to themselves.
A deep pleasure of the story is the way that the plot, cast and context interact in unexpected and engaging ways. The confidence that Christopher Baldwin has in the story and cast is a joy, the pages are full of funny exchanges that never hide the cast behind gags, they continuously manage to be funny and revealing at the same time. Each cast member is given a change to engage the reader on tier own terms and to emerge as satisfyingly complicated.
The art is friendly and a pleasure to read, the figures are all slightly stiff particularly in a profile view, they all move naturally and relate to each other and their context very naturally. The strong personalities are expressed with eloquent body language, in particular the faces of the cast. They move through their context with force and physical weight that is vital in such a confined space. The spaceship feels right, enough detail to anchor the action firmly without being overdressed. There is a crucial sense of the length of the spaceship, the layers of the space that have different functions are are essentially belonging to different members of the crew, it feels like a working operation.
The muted colours catch the understated emotional tones of the story and bring out the details of the cast and context with strength and quiet force.
Christopher Baldwin has managed a very difficult story and made it look easy, a space opera that has the confidence to push really hard into the implications of the story idea and never backs down to easy ways out. Doing all this heavy lifting with laugh out loud humour and making it all look easy is a considerable achievement.
One Way is superb science fiction, a great comic and a luxurious pleasure to read.

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