Workers Are From Venus, Elitists Are From Mars
Venus Rises: Exordium Chapter 1
Conceived and Written by J.G. Birdsall
Illustrated by Thomas Garbarini
As the Earth neared becoming completely uninhabitable, corporations came together and assumed control of the government. These Mega-Corps set up mining operations on the moon before the elite left Earth and colonized Mars. Demand for resources remained high, and once the moon’s resources had been depleted, the miners were sent to Venus with the promise they could one day join the new Martian society. That promise has not been kept, and Venus has declared its independence. Now, civil war looms on the horizon.
The first few pages of this comic contain a timeline of preceding events. This is the first occasion where a timeline actually got me excited for a series of any kind. Normally they’re completely dry and factual. This one actually sets up the story to come. As such, it also marks the first time I’ve actively hoped for a flashback in a comic book. There were many events listed on the timeline that would be awesome to see in a graphic format. Furthermore, the timeline also presents several events that add an air of mystery to the story as well, adding to the level of anticipation the reader has before even starting the actual story. This is just the first of several small touches that set this comic book apart from others of its kind. Each setting in the story is described with a blurb that details that location’s information. This includes the details of planets (mass, year length, number of moons, etc..) and specifics of various ships and bases (owner, weight, length, etc..).
Once the actual story begins, it is told from two different perspectives. That of the crew of the salvage ship Cattywampus and from the point of view of Hollister Pelt, an employee of the Shirokawa Mega-Corp. The crew of the Cattywampus has been doing their best to stay out of the conflict between Venus and Mars. Meanwhile, Pelt has stumbled upon information that may help save his floundering employer. Birdsall does a great job of giving the reader small details about the characters without revealing too much. This leads to a great build up of tension and foreshadows motivations that may come into play in later chapters of the story.
Although there is dialogue when necessary, I love that so much of the story is told purely through visuals. This lets the reader experience the world Birdsall and Garbarini have created without having to focus on following a written narrative. Garbarini uses a lot of background detail that gives the story a high level of richness. The reader doesn’t have to be told through dialogue or narration that the ship is in disrepair, they can draw that conclusion for themselves by taking in the artwork. I really liked that the characters are drawn to look like actual people. I did find it odd that there are times when the characters stand out from the background in a jarring way, almost forcing the eye to either look at the characters or the scene around them. Garbarini’s illustration style has an animated look to it. I think the discrepancy in coloring between characters and background may be a result of his style being presented in static images. In any case, I eventually got used to it as I read further into the comic.
Venus Rises is a very intimate and human-centric story that just so happens to be set in space. Although there is potential for grander scale events, this isn’t some galaxy spanning space epic, which I found really refreshing. It’s a unique take on a Science-Fiction adventure that has elements of a character study. This first chapter sets the stage for what promises to be a fun interplanetary saga. The first two chapters of this independently published series are available now, with a third in production.
Venus Rises: Exordium Chapter 1