Review - HaloGen #1

"The upper city is the flower. A bar in the root."

Archaia always puts out top-notch works and ever since their acquisition by BOOM! Studios, it feels as if they've upped their publishing frequency. More and more great books are coming out of the Archaia shop, with HaloGen #1 being the latest. The issue is written by Josh Tierney, illustrated and lettered by Afu Chan and colored by Shelly Chen.

There’s a rumor on Cityship Q that the gigantic body of a dead god was found floating in space. Rell, an agent working for the HaloGen organization, is tasked with finding the location of the god and retrieving it by any means necessary. Using her ability to form hyper-realistic holograms, Rell is about to take on the first mission she might not be able to finish.

Many science-fiction stores hinge on the notion that the inhabitants of that universe are divided by something and many times that something is wealth. In HaloGen #1 that divide is also on display, but Tierney does a rather elegant job of establishing those stakes and setting the main character Rell on a path to work with less than savory types. Rell has secrets of her own and it's a testament to Tierney's approach that he gives her an intricate personality that shines through primarily as a reflection of her actions and choices. Rell is a rebellious operative seeking to learn more than she's probably entitled to know and Tierney leverages that to make the story feel adventurous. Tierney volleys back and forth between shady meetings in bars and high-stakes extractions without missing a beat, giving characters plenty to work with.

Rendering the "Root" of Cityship Q, Chan infuses the look with art that is rather simple yet grimy. The characters who inhabit the city range from human in appearance to animal-like, effectively showcasing what is a diverse setting where none of the inhabitants bat an eyelash at someone different. Fortunately for the reader, that diversity feels cohesive, as Chan relies on a fairly simplistic panel layout that keeps things easy to follow. There are a few instances where the lettering feels a little unconventional, as Chan is fond of stacking dialogue bubbles atop one another to better mimic the cadence of a conversation. Chan seems to draw on 80s anime as something of an influence on the book's look, with facial expressions embellished by large, surprised eyes and exaggerated mouths at times. Chan's art is bolstered by Chen's choice of colors, ranging from bold reds to yellow and not straying too far from the neon spectrum.

HaloGen #1 is a lot of fun. It offers up a science-fiction world that doesn't hold back and knows what it wants to be and do. It's only the first issue, but Tierney has really crafted a world that feels fully realized and teeming with complex relationships and interactions. Chan's artwork is straightforward and simple, yet the story loses nothing in terms of depth because of the simpler illustrations. HaloGen #1 is a book that anyone who enjoys a good sci-fi read will want to pick up, but there's also a larger appeal found in the pages that will speak to anyone who really just likes a good story.

HaloGen #1 is available now with interiors below.