I often am kicking myself in the pants for not jumping on to a comic series when it starts. Sometimes I don’t hear anything about it, other times I’m just unsure if I want to take the plunge and spend the money. You never know what you are gonna get. Port of Earth issue one came out this Wednesday and caught my attention. The creative consists of names I was not familiar with and it was a first issue so this was my chance to jump on board. And jumped I did.
Aliens are difficult
I was immediately taken by Andrea Mutti's art style for the interior pages on this book. Aliens can be hard to get right. Either you make them too cartoony and you lose a seriousness that the story may require or they get drawn overly complicated and become a distraction to other elements of the story. But Mutti was able to bring a maturity to the aliens that I really appreciated. They were believable for the world they inhabited but still foreign enough that I was interested to learn more about them and all the new species that are to come later on in the series.
In addition to the great looking aliens there is a grunge to the art, possibly put in by Vladimir Popov's coloring, that lends itself well to the mystery that the first issue sets up. It’s a crime noir story from the perspective of a police or military like group with aliens thrown in for good measure. But while most crime stories may opt for a darker color scheme, Port of Earth uses subtle colors and grays, making the world they live in colder and seemingly under a constant mist. It’s an unexpected detail, but it works.
First issue blues
Despite the art having a lot going for it, Zack Kaplan's writing in this first issue was held up by a major obstacle. The comic opens with exposition explaining the recent history of the world, what the Port of Earth is, and how it came to be. Unfortunately, this takes up most of the issue and we have little time with what appears to be the two lead characters or to set up the hook of the comic to get you to read more. Sadly, this doesn't do much to inspire me to continue reading, at least in single issues. On one hand, getting all that exposition out of the way clears the path for the story to proceed with no obstacles. On the other, it doesn’t make for a great first issue. I would have preferred they showed me all this information through the course of the story rather than tell it all to me at the beginning. Waiting to read this story until the first volume to come out may be a wise move.
Macross and Port of Earth's potential
That said, if you are a fan of Macross/Robotech, this may have hit a positive button for you as those shows have a very similar exposition-heavy start to their stories that center around aliens and their technology being integrated into Earth’s society. So just because the series starts in this manner doesn’t mean it can’t still become something awesome. But this connection may fall flat to a lot of people who are not familiar with Macross or Robotech.
However, in the little time we do spend with the two lead characters, they are thrust into a mystery that I definitely want to know more about despite only getting the bare minimum of the details. As any great sci-fi does, it has the potential to take a look at our society in a more objective manner than we typically get to see it in. Port of Earth has the opportunity to make some awesome commentary on society, race relations, as well as cultural politics and crime. If you can forgive it for the exposition-heavy first issue, this may be a series to keep an eye on.
Port of Earth issue one is filled with exposition and very little of what this story will actually be about. As far as first issues go, it is not the best, but may have struck a chord if you are a fan of anime shows like Macross/Robotech. However, the art is expertly constructed and presents itself with a maturity that many alien-centric stories lack. With the unfortunate missteps of this issue, reading the first few issues month to month may not be the best choice. However volume one, once collected, will probably be something worth checking out.