Written by Jeff Lemire
Drawn by Andrea Sorrentino
Colored by Dave Stewart
Lettering and Design by Steve Wands
Review by Kris K
The Space Race defined the Cold War, and by extension, the 20th Century. The entire world watched as the two superpowers pushed themselves to the stars. But what if we didn’t?
Primordial follows a different path. What if the two powers abandoned the race in the late 50’s? With the race to space tied so closely to the nuclear arms race, what could stop us from running down that path at full speed?
Primordial asks that question with a conspiracy theory worthy of the Smoking Man of X-Files. What if the monkeys and dog sent to space didn’t die at launch, as the governments reported? What if they met a power way above them and learned to fear shooting for the stars?
Dr. Pembrook gets a call from his government to serve his country by helping out with Project Pen Cap for a few days at Cape Canaveral. Dr. Pembrook is excited, but his hopes are dashed as he learns that his mission is to sort through scrap to see if any technology there is good for ballistic missiles.
While he sorts through the junk, a fellow American, Mr. Chapman, hands him some papers. They document the monkeys dying during launch but surviving for several more minutes than was reported to the public.
He calls his superior, but he gets told to drop it. When he returns to the base, the guards deny entrance. He runs back to his car to be met up by a waiting Russian. The Russian tells him that the monkeys and Russia’s dog did not die during launch. They were instead “taken”. (Possibly to the dark side of the moon.) Dr. Pembrook receives an address to memorize in Berlin. And we see the monkeys walking through a great white space, where the Russian dog greets them with a hello.
Honestly, I was a little disappointed in this issue. I consider Lemire and Sorrentino to be apex creators, but this comic left me unsatisfied. It served as a simple setup issue, with no real surprises. If the issue had humor or heart to invest the reader more into the story, the setup could be forgiven. The comic uses light dialogue, leaning on the artist’s visuals to pull the reader in.
But the comic, as it is, ends where I expected it. It felt like you could skip the first issue in this series and easily parse out what happened in two pages of the second issue. The rest of the series may be great, but I can’t grade on possible futures, just the known present. Sorrentino made some pages that would excel as posters, but the art couldn’t make up for a predictable story.
Verdict: Pass. While this comic could be great by its end, the first issue left something to be desired.