I don’t envy the first issue of any series. In order to be considered properly successful they have to do a whole multitude of things: Introduce characters, set the story, have some form of closure as a self contained story, and (most importantly), make the reader want to come back for more.
Planetoid manages all of these, but perhaps not quite in the right order.
Is that a weird thing to say? Probably; but it’s how I felt after reading the first entry in this new series from Image (helpfully delivered over a week after it was released by my less than stellar comic book shop).
The story opens with a man called Silas crash landing on an unknown Planetoid (not just a cool name, huh?) in a seriously bad space neighbourhood. As he arrives he discovers that the planet seems to be some sort of giant industrial graveyard, the entire landscape consisting of girders, machinery and walkways, twisted and tilted at monstrous angles like a contortionist falling down a set of stairs while wearing a suit of armour.
And it looks good. Like, really good. Have a look at the image above if you don’t believe me; if you’re a sucker for depressive, smoke clogged vistas that look like one of Geiger’s castoffs, you’re in for a treat. The Planetoid is a mess of metal, with a population of both biological and mechanical beasties that you don’t want to spend too much time around.
So, there’s the scene set; a big tick in the box for Planetoid.
The issue does contain its own start, middle and end:- I don’t want to go too deeply into spoilers but Silas ends the issue with his initial questions answered, so that’s a tick in that box too.
Introducing characters? Well, there’s only one really, and that’s done (but in somewhat of a clunky way that seems rather forced. It’s not quite the videogame trope of “So, remind me what we’re here to do again?”, but it ain’t far off), so there’s another tick, and as the first major threat to Silas’ wellbeing uncoils itself in all its metallic, petrol soaked glory, you will find yourself thinking “Oh man, I can’t wait to find out what Silas does next issue!”
Except you find out on the next page, leaving the pacing’s inaugural attempt to fly to crash quicker than Silas did at the start of the comic, and leaving the issue to hobble to a conclusion, dragging itself wearily over the enormous wooden packing crate of exposition that we discussed before.
It’s an odd criticism to aim at a comic, but it feels like if the content of this episode was shifted around a little bit, the story would flow far better - as well as allowing the narrative to slowly gain its wings throughout the duration of this first issue - rather than the debut issue just sort of… stopping, with little more than a mention of a new place for Silas to head towards next issue.
There is quite a lot to be positive about in these pages, however: As mentioned before the art is fantastic, and both the setting and Silas seem as harsh and inhospitable as each other. The story (currently) doesn’t seem to be anything mind blowing, but there was enough there to make me want to pick up issue 2, at least (especially after having a nose at this preview) - but it’s gonna have to pull out all the stops to get me to hang around after that. This is a one man operation, and Ken Garing is certainly doing an admirable job here, I just hope he manages to find his stride and properly nail it.