Wild Blue Yonder #1
Story & Script: Mike Raicht
Story & Art: Zach Howard
Story: Austin Harrison
Colors: Nelson Daniel
Review: Joey Braccino
Ready for the understatement of the day? The pop cultural hive-mind of 2013 is OBSESSED with dystopian sci-fi right now. Hunger Games, Elysium, Pacific Rim, Walking Dead, Divergent. The list goes on and on and on. Even this past weekend’s blockbuster, Man of Steel (however divisive it may be), adopts images of dystopic, post-human destruction. I’ve read and reviewed tons of creator-owned comics over the past few months operating in this dystopian mold: The Hollows, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, Hoodlum, Judge Dredd, Multiple Warheads. Even the “Big 2” are pushing books of similar stock, with titles like Avengers Arena (Marvel) and Injustice (DC) pushing the boundaries of superheroic edgy sci-fi action.
So what could make a new comic stand out in a cultural zeitgeist obsessed with the end of the world?
How about setting the whole story up in the clouds?
Wild Blue Yonder does just that, establishing a world so ruined and wasted that the survivors are forced to spend every moment of their lives flying about the sky in airships and propeller planes.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2012, Wild Blue Yonder’s creative team was able to finish raise the funds necessary to finish their five-issue mini-series and earned publication through IDW Publishing. What makes the success story is made even more awesome is the fact that Wild Blue Yonder is really, really good.
Click on the Kickstarter link above for more info about the story, but the premise alone pushes writer Raicht and Harrison and artists Howard and Daniel to really work their world-building prowess. To set a dystopic story in the sky takes away the crutch of ruined landscapes and decrepit buildings, so Howard and Daniel combine a steampunk aesthetic with copper brown washes, resulting in a burnt, rusted out feel. After a brief introduction establishing the end of the world, Raicht and Harrison turn their attention to their main character and teenaged, female protagonist, Cola. While Howard and Daniel work their artistic juices illustrating high octane aerial battles and flying warships (oh yeah, it gets crazy up in the sky), Raicht and Harrison make sure to weave a clear coming-of-age tale for Cola as she grapples with her mother, her station in life, and the violent world that surrounds her.
Cola, however, is not our audience-identifier; instead, Raicht and Harrison deftly include the character Tug, a roustabout recruited by Cola into the wild world of dogfights and engineer-goggles. We ask the same questions that Tug asks: Why are planes shooting at us? Who are those daredevils in the jetpacks? You guys live here??!? It’s a great device that helps the audience buy into the world this team is building.
Buy! I’m a sucker for creator-owned project, sure, but I especially fall for fascinating and fresh spins on genre-tales. Aerial dogfights are totally old-school, Romantic pulp action, so weaving that action with the uber-popular dystopian sci-fi and a Coming-of-Age tale featuring a female protagonist, and I’m all aboard for this five-issue mini-series!!!