Friday, March 6, 2015

Review - Citizen of the Galaxy #1


"The boy did not even know what planet he was on."

Slavery is a human institution that reflects the darker side of humanity. It's always been a scourge of civilization, requiring a certain level of ill-will to be content with being an owner of slaves and treating a human life as a commodity. The concept is timeless though, with countless writers and artists putting their own spin on the concept. IDW Entertainment's latest foray in adapting a work tackling that issue is Citizen of the Galaxy #1. The issue is adapted by Rob Lazaro and Eric Gignac, illustrated by Steve Erwin, inked and colored by Gignac and lettered by Gignac and Richard Sheinaus.

Just outside our galaxy the atrocities of slavery thrive and young Thorby is just another orphaned boy sold at auction on Jabbul. But when he crosses paths with a mysterious crippled beggar named Baslim, his destiny is forever changed. Thorby wants to make a name for himself, which means that listening to Baslim might be his best chance for survival and a life where he's not returned to slavery.

Citizen of the Galaxy was originally serialized in Astounding Science Fiction in 1957 by Robert A. Heinlein. Lazaro and Gignac seemed to have adapted the story fairly faithfully, albeit a little clumsily. Much of the first issue is peppered with very direct narration that reiterates the panel displayed, which makes you wonder if the book would've been more powerful without the narration. Because of this, Lazaro and Gignac feel as if they're determined to make sure the reader doesn't get lost in the story, even if it comes at the expense of the reader making those mental leaps on their own. Despite the heavy-handed narrative approach, Lazaro and Gignac do an admirable job adapting the story and making it feel like their own. The pace is largely consistent throughout, save for a few spots where the story feels as if it jumps around a little bit with some event gaps in between.

Accompanying the story is Erwin's art, which evokes a fantasy sensibility to it. It works considering the imaginative nature of the book itself and characters are all fully realized amidst fairly intricate cityscapes. Erwin's style blends old world sensibilities with an otherwordly, futuristic sci-fi setting. Each panel feels as if it's placed on the pages randomly, eschewing a typical format for more of a scrapbook feel that propels the action further. Gignac handles the colors, thriving primarily on a range of blues and blacks for night scenes, alongside oranges and greens for day scenes. The combination of colors and line art really help the reader experience Jabbul in a way similar to that of Thorby.

Citizen of the Galaxy #1 is an adaptation of a previous work and it's delivered in a way that wants to stay true to the original work without getting too far away from the core concept. Thorby's tale isn't exactly new by any means, but his presence in a world that seems to be caught between past and future is interesting. Lazaro and Gignac provide what seems to be a faithful adaptation of the source material, despite some instances where it feels as it the reader is being given more information than is necessary in an effort to make sure they hit all the right comparison points to the original. Erwin's art is a great blend of realism and imagination, offering a world that resembles a civilization like Persia that is reminisced on through historic accounts. Citizen of the Galaxy #1 is very ambitious and wants to get into a lot and the first issue offers plenty for the reader to sink their teeth into.

Citizen of the Galaxy #1 is in stores now.

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