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Deep Gravity #1

Story by Mike Richardson

Script by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko

Art by Fernando Baldó

Colors by Nick Filardi

Review by Joey Braccino

Science-fiction is ruling the cultural zeitgeist right now. Between critically acclaimed films like Gravity and worldwide franchise phenomenon like the return of Star Wars and Star Trek, space operas and hard science-fiction are quickly regaining the imaginative and creative weight that they once had. The upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy and Interstellar further the notion that space is, once again, the final frontier for sci-fi storytelling. And yet, with the increased interest in the genre, we often see a glut of repetitive or redundant stories.

Sci-Fi!

Sci-Fi!

Enter Deep Gravity #1, a new original comics series from Dark Horse. The premise is familiar; a planet similar to Earth has been discovered and, as is often the case, corporations have started carving out pieces and resources. Sound familiar? Look no further than Avatar or Firefly or Alien for the stylistic inspiration for Deep Gravity. In this new series, Poseidon, “a planet not unlike our own yet utterly alien,” serves as a sort of mine for the MAELSTROM SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION. Three years away, the dreadnaught spaceship Vanguard goes back and forth between Earth and Poseidon transporting new ground teams and assorted minerals and indigenous species. The colonization story, like much of the sci-fi canon, is pretty standard fare for the genre, probably because of its easy thematic parallels to our own history. So while the concepts are often repeated, it’s up to the writing and characters to drive the interest a given story.

Fortunately, Deep Gravity is grounded in some excellent characterization and conflict separate from its higher interstellar exploits. Dark Horse founder and president Mike Richardson is responsible for the story concepts, while writers Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko of Planet of the Apes and Star Wars: Legacy produce the script. Richardson is known for pitching ideas and hiring exceptional writers to flesh out the stories; in the mid-‘90s, Richardson created The Mask and selected John Arcudi (BPRD and work on several DC series) and Doug Mahnke (Green Lantern) to helm the new series. The deep gravity concept (the larger a body in space, the stronger the gravitational pull; closer being “deeper”) serves as the operant theme for the new series, driving the character interactions rather than simply being something sci-fi. Hardman and Bechko introduce the core relationships; protagonist Paxon is a third-string engineer who transferred onto the Vanguard so that he could get to Poseidon and meet up with Michelle Robinson, a hard-as-nails science staff operative responsible for collecting and maintaining the animals for transport. There is clearly a past between the two, one that Paxon still holds on to while Michelle wants nothing to do with, and let’s just say that the cliffhanger to the first issue ensures they’ll have plenty of time to work through the conflict. And the conflict is palpable, which proves just enough to give Deep Gravity its own reason for telling its story. The ending to the first issue also points to some sort of larger conspiracy, so perhaps there is more to the “deep gravity” concept that simply a failed romance.

Fernando Baldó’s stark realism works wonders for the visual experience of Deep Gravity. Science-fiction—particularly that which takes us to other worlds—often resorts to otherworldly or occasional surreal aesthetics that bleed into the art style. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for a series that wants to ground itself in character rather than concept, Baldó’s straightforward naturalism emphasizes the people while making the alien creatures actually pop as alien when they do show up. Nick Filardi’s colors have a muted quality to them, paralleling Baldó’s realism, except of course when the creatures and plants show up, which is when the sharp blues and greens flood the page.

Verdict

 Worth a look. Deep Gravity is a high-concept, character-driven sci-fi series from Dark Horse comics by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman. It’s refreshing to see these two writers who are known for their work on established franchises like Planet of the Apes and Star Wars take a shot at something new. While the concepts may be familiar, Deep Gravity has just enough intrigue and intercharacter conflict to make it its own entity. Check it!

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