Thursday, January 9, 2014

Review - Ultra Nova One-Shot

"I'm going to see if I can find the crew. Anyone. Don't go far Midas."

The saying goes that in space, no one can hear you scream. That's especially true if you're staring into a star that's ten times the mass of the sun. Cale is an astronaut who may not be screaming, but he's surely in shock considering what he faces when he gets closer to the star in Ultra Nova One-Shot from Challenger Comics. The issue is written by Ryan Ferrier, illustrated by Chris Peterson and colored by Ed Ryzowski.

The Atlas II-a space craft designed to keep the supergiant star, Argus, from exploding-suddenly goes offline, diverting a nearby astronaut from a long, solitary mission. Once aboard the Atlas II, astronaut Cale soon discovers the crew violently murdered by an inhuman force. As the burning star swells closer to supernova, Cale finds himself in a race against time to save not only his own sanity, but billions of life forms.

Give credit to Ferrier, he's clearly seen a lot of sci-fi movies set in space. Ultra Nova One-Shot has elements of Alien and Event Horizon, both of which work very well together in building up to a pretty epic conclusion. Cale's opponent is a ship manifesting itself in a lifeform in what is presumably the interest of self-preservation. It's arc moves very efficiently, offering a proper beginning and satisfying conclusion that--despite being a one-shot--leaves open the possibility that the story could continue. It feels like Dead Space, except without the exceedingly terrifying Necromorphs running amok. Cale's discovery process is very chilling, considering he starts the mission off as a loner on a mission and ends changed forever.

Peterson's art is very clean and concise. The polish has the look of a book from Marvel or DC and all the scenes with Argus as a character are illustrated very well and colored brilliantly by Ryzowski. The reader really gets the feel that a supergiant star is on the verge of collapsing, impressing upon the reader the gravity of the situation Cale is faced with. Character anatomy is very organic and shows Cale going through a wide variety of emotions and realizations, both about the situation of the Atlas II and his situation as well. The changing background from stark white to pitch black moves with the mood of the story at the time; a storytelling device that works beautifully.

Ultra Nova One-Shot isn't exactly a cheerful tale that glorifies travel in space. Instead, it's a tale of what happens when humanity starts delving into areas they don't fully comprehend and the lasting effects of their meddling. The crew of Atlas II were trying to stop Argus from exploding, yet they were unaware of the consequences of working so closely to a beast of science. Cale moves through the story in parallel to the reader, offering a fantastic point of view as the truth is uncovered and he comes to some rather horrifying revelations. It's a very strong tale about the perils of space and humanity's insatiable curiosity.

Ultra Nova One-Shot is available now via Comixology.


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