Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.
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ComiConverse Contributor, Darryll Robson, reviews the final issue in the Venus series from Boom Studios!,Â VenusÂ #4, a comic that puts character development and personal conflict above all else.
Stranded on the surface of Venus with no way of escape. The Earth nothing more than smoldering debrisÂ in the depths of space. A habitat in ruin and the possibility of creating sustainability virtually zero. For the survivors in the Augustine complex, the word hopeless is an understatement.
Despite all of this there is a sense of hope that runs through this final issue of Rick Loverd's miniseries. The Captain fights tooth and nailÂ to protect her people even though the weight of the world rests on her shoulders, and everyone seems to be against her. She faces accusations about her personal life while having to work out what to do with aÂ traitor in their midst. It is not a simple court martial facing her because there are so many extenuating circumstances; so much has happened and so much changed since the actual crime but justice has been severed. This âlive or die' dilemma has been used many times before, just think of The Walking Dead or the original Survivors television series, where normal rules no longer apply.
What does the Captain do? Unfortunately for her this is a no win situation. The trauma she is going through is madeÂ explicitÂ in the script and in the art. Subtle changes in her position illustrate thatÂ she feels she is losing the battle. She starts in the foreground with her feet firmly planted,Â but as the narrative progresses, she diminishes as other characters tower over her and she recedes into the background with her hand coveringÂ her face. This is a brilliant piece of character work which explains her determination in the second half of the comic.
Other characters are explored mostly through battles with their counterparts. Sergeant Thorne fights for his survival at all costs and does not stop to think about who gets hurt alongÂ the way. Lieutenant Reyes uses aggressive verbal bullying to get a rise out of the Captain. The Captain almost raises to the bait, but the situation is diffused just in time.
A part from the conflicting characters there is not much to the story. Like the previous two issues there is little in the way of action until near the end and even then it is an extension of the internal bickering. A lot of the science that made the earlier issues intriguing has been jettisoned from this final installment to be replaced with personal conflict. If you are hoping for a definitive ending that ties everything up I am afraid you're in for some disappointment. It feels more like an opening arc ending rather than a final issue. The story seems to have just got going before the final few pages throw a curve ball to finish you off.
Whereas the narrative has highs and lows, the artwork remains strong throughout. Huang Danlan's figure work is good but it is the visual layouts that are stunning. He uses the bleak setting in clever ways to express the emotional turmoil of the characters. When Thorne manipulates his guards, Danlan uses the window in the door to illustrate the prisoner's success; he starts with a clear, empty window and then draws the reader's attention to the guards division by placing them on either side of it while behind the glass Thorne moves ever closer, his confidence growing.
Visually Venus #4 is a successful end to the four part series but unfortunately the story could not quite keep up to the same standard. The first issue was very strong and contained some interesting ideas, but it aimed for Kim Stanley Robinson heights and never quite got there.
Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse.Â Follow us on Twitter: @ComiConverse
Worth a read for a feeling of completion but doesn't quite offer everything you hope for.