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The High Ways #1 (IDW)

Writer/Artist: John Byrne

Colorist: Leonard O’Grady

Review by Bob Reyer

Behind a cover resembling a movie one-sheet from some unknown outer space epic, The High Ways, John Byrne’s newest series from IDW, features elements familiar to devotees of Science-Fiction classics such as “Solaris”, “Silent Running”, or “Alien” but are here-in combined to form the backdrop to a growing set of mysteries.

We’re introduced to rookie navigator Eddie Wallace, who’s brought aboard the freighter “Carol Ann” by veteran space jockey Marilyn Jones. Their mission to Mars is swapped out at the last minute by the rather cranky Captain Jack Cagney, and replaced with an 8-month haul to Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon. When the “Carol Ann” and her crew arrive there to pick up their shipment for delivery, they discover that no shipping order was sent, and receive a luke-warm reception from the inhabitants of the base, particularly Chief Scientist Dr. Munoz, whose long-running experiments might be jeopardized by these unwanted visitors.

Writer/artist John Byrne manages within the space of mere panels to give of these new characters distinct and vibrant personalities, either through actions or words, but sometimes with only  body language or their placement within the panel, as in a charming bit where Eddie and “Jonesy” get suited up for their voyage. The design work on the ships and stations brings you into a “real” fantastic world, as they all seem to have the “lived-in” look of actual working environments, and the colors by Leonard O’Grady add a richness and scope to the settings, and an almost 3-D quality to the space-set scenes.

The High Ways looks as if it will be a gem of many facets, as much groundwork was set down in this issue, but never at the expense of an entertaining first chapter, and the bits of fore-shadowing hint at some potentially dire events on the horizon—as witnessed in the cliffhanger!

VERDICTIf you’re a fan of literary Science-Fiction, or the more straightforward Sci-Fi films listed above, then The High Ways is right up your alley, and is a Must Buy; but there is a mystery/horror component to this story, too, so if you’re looking for a respite from the “capes & cowls”, and have enjoyed titles such as Saga or The Massive, I would suggest that trying out an issue of John Byrne’s latest work would be well worth your time and money also.


Soundtrack:  This review was written whilst listening to the 1958 album Come Fly With Me by Frank Sinatra, which features a great mix of ballads and swinging pieces, all tied to the theme of “Places’; i.e. “April in Paris”. “Autumn in New York”, and certainly one of my favorites, “Let’s Get Away From It All”.  rrr

2 Responses

  1. Gregory

    Nice write up, Bob.

    I was a fan of Byrne’s for many years, but unlike you, I haven’t kept up with his latest superhero work for IDW. I do enjoy a good nuts and bolts science fiction story, so I made a point of picking this up last week at the comic book store and I’m glad I did.

    John Byrne uses his art to tell a story as only an old pro can. In only 23 pages Byrne establishes all the main characters, the setting and the mystery of the Europa base. The art is wonderfully rich in detail (note the low gravity toilet on the last page), which really adds to the feeling of being there with Eddie. Speaking of Eddie Wallace: using him as a POV character is an old but still perfect trick for introducing the reader to the futurist world that Byrne has created. The High Ways has the feel of Heinlein’s juveniles; which I consider a good thing.

    I can’t wait to see what exactly is going on on Europa and how Byrne will wrap this story up in just three more issues!

    • Bob Reyer


      Thanks for checking in, and for the kind words!

      The High Ways has a great resonance to it, that seems as if you’ve been reading about these characters for years and know them inside-and-out, which is testament to Mr. Byrne’s abilities as a story-teller.

      At IDW, along with his super-hero work on Trio and Next Men, he’s also done a few classic Star Trek minis, and the wonderful spy piece Cold War, and they’re all worth checking out!


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