H.O.P.E.: Tales of the Nuclear Family #001 Review
A true collaborative work from an independent publisher.
I like the post-apocalyptic genre. I harbor a soft spot in my heart for the near-wiping-out of the human race. Naturally, the premise for Planet Random’s H.O.P.E. comic book sparked my interest and compelled me to pick up a copy of H.O.P.E #001. Being a book from an independent publisher, my local comic shop didn’t stock it, which wasn’t unexpected, so I had to order it from Planet Random’s website. The purchasing experience was handled by the publisher in a highly personal and professional manner. They supplied me with several extra goodies along with the book I bought.
H.O.P.E. #001: Tales of the Nuclear Family was released in July, 2012. This book is a true collaborative work. The plot and premise are the brain-children of Raymond Ayala. This publicaView Posttion is divided into two chapters and a section labeled “Intermission.” Different artists worked on each part of the book. On the cover, pencils were done by Jeff Welborn, inks by Diego Martinez, and colors by Frederick Stresing. For the first chapter, all of the art duties were handled by Aaron Kim Jacinto. In chapter two, Rafael Desquitado took on the tasks of both penciller and inker. Stresing returns for the colors in this chapter and for the intermission, working with colorist Aaron James in the second chapter. The final section’s pencils and inks are done by Jacob Elijah Hallinen.
Ayala proves himself to be a strong storyteller. In 32 pages, he was able to provide a vivid impression of the world of H.O.P.E. Although a little heavy on exposition during dialogue, the first chapter exudes drama as the relationship between the main characters starts to develop. This chapter left me curious about the past of these characters and the story of how the planet ended up the way it did. The comic shifts gear in the second chapter, focusing more on family, set years after the first chapter. Again, Ayala displays his ability for developing his protagonists as he tells the story of an almost forced coming-of-age for this chapter’s main character.
Both chapters put together, along with the bonus intermission section, round out the story in this first offering of Planet Random’s new universe quite nicely. It’s a great start and I’ve found myself wishing the second issue was available already. I only have one criticism: Science fiction should stop making up new curse words. While I understand how the character is making the word “spark” a part of his identity, it gave me pause during the reading as I had to take a moment to figure out that he was actually cursing. I’ve only ever seen made-up-science-fiction cursing work twice in my travels: the new Battlestar Galactica and the tabletop RPG Shadowrun. In both cases, the fake cursing wasn’t forced, which is what most made-up cursing ends up being. I’m not implying nobody can ever make it work, but it’s a tired and trite aspect of science fiction and I feel it should be abandoned altogether.
Despite the various artists at work in this publication, there is a great cohesiveness to the images within its pages. The cover and the first pages of each chapter are drawn with tremendous detail and vivid colors playing within the shadows. This gives the reader a good sense as to the nature of this world. The action sequences are well done, too. The force of the characters’ punches and kicks along with the glow of energy weapons as they discharge are illustrated with purpose by the artists. This attention to detail speaks to the understanding of Ayala’s vision by those he recruited to draw it. However, I noticed a somewhat diminishing level of quality as each chapter drew closer to its end. The details aren’t as visible, especially in characters’ faces, as you turn each page. This served to lessen my capacity to care about the characters as I continued to read. Hopefully this can be improved in future issues.
All told, this is a wonderful book and a great opening into the reality Planet Random popped into existence. Ayala’s story and characters show great potential, with a past whose story is just begging to be told. I look forward to this publisher’s future releases and to more chapters to add to the story of H.O.P.E. Check out the trailer above, which features some of the book’s artwork.