Friday, November 10, 2017

Review - Port of Earth #1 (@imagecomics)


"We always knew we weren't alone."

Earth's place in the galaxy is one that seems pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. That could--and will--definitely change as we make more advancements in rocket technology, but for now we're left to dream. In Port of Earth #1 from Image Comics, that dream becomes a reality of sorts. The issue is written by Zack Kaplan, illustrated by Andrea Mutti, colored by Vladimir Popov and lettered by Troy Peteri.

Imagine if aliens came to Earth not in war or peace, but with a business deal: open up a spaceport here on Earth in exchange for advanced technology. But when our alien visitors break Port restrictions and wreak havoc in our cities, it falls to the newly formed Earth Security Agents to hunt down and safely deport the dangerous rogue aliens back to the Port of Earth.

Kaplan taps into a lot of pent-up frustration surrounding immigration and uses that as a the crux of Port of Earth #1. To get to that point though, Kaplan crams a lot of expository in the first half of the issue to get the reader up to speed with what's going on. It's a little jarring because it's essentially an information dump, but Kaplan does it pretty well and it provides plenty of context for the remainder of the issue. Because of all that information front-loading, Kaplan doesn't really do much in the way of dialogue until the second-half of the issue--that dialogue is pretty straightforward yet effective. The concept as a whole is pretty sound though and Kaplan does great to make it seem like a not-to-distant future for Earth.

The artistic approach in the issue affords the work something of a future, dystopian feel. Mutti captures an otherworldliness in Earth through a seemingly scratchy approach, illustrating the Port of Earth and its surroundings with an emphasis on rough textures. Mutti's linework is clean for the most part, but the understated approach dulls the impact of the overarching message somewhat. Because Mutti uses perspectives that are seemingly removed from the action there's a sense that the reader is observing all the events unfold as opposed to being part of them. Popov's colors are muted and washed out which--again--belies the ambitious narrative beneath.

Port of Earth #1 sets its sights pretty high and is slowly building its way up to that. The Earth Security Agents are tasked with preserving the safety of Earth in the path of interstellar vessels seeking to refuel and things continue to escalate. Kaplan's script is front-loaded with information and doesn't really give the characters much room to develop, but that should change in future issues. Mutti's artwork is loose in its approach and captures the essence of the Earth's future as the aforementioned refueling station. Port of Earth #1 starts off very slowly even if it appears to just start scratching the surface.

Port of Earth #1 is available now.

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