It is a good time to love sci-fi comic books. RASL, Atomic Robo, anything Jonathan Hickman puts out — we're seeing a nice return of high minded, thoughtful science fiction.
While I'm a big fan of Sam Humphries' self-published books Our Love Is Real and the as-yet unfinished Sacrifice, I wasn't overwhelmed by the first issue of his other BOOM! title, Fanboys vs. Zombies. It just didn't grab me like his other books, perhaps because it didn't feature the out there ideas that I'm used to reading from him. While Higher Earth isn't breaking any new ground, it sets the stage for a lot of great possibilities.
There are multiple Earths. Yeah, I know, you've heard that one before. But this time their number is infinite. And it appears that jumping from one to another isn't all that unusual, or at least frequent enough that "You are illegal on this Earth" is an actual phrase that people use. Which, I should add, is a great catchphrase.
The bulk of the story deals with an unknown man with a sword with a possibly robotic raven as a sidekick, looking for an unknown woman, who sometimes climbs into a mechanical bear suit and beats people up for action figures. Honestly, the previous sentence alone should be enough to get you to try this book.
There's a lot of action in this first issue, so much so that it easily could have been ruined by a bad or even average artist. I've never seen Francesco Biagini's work before, but I was really impressed with his art. There's an Eduardo Barreto/Ron Garney feel to it. The action is kinetic and the backgrounds are rich. I don't know if editor Dafna Pleban is responsible for getting Biagini on this book, but whoever did struck gold.
Higher Earth is the type of concept that comics should aspire to. It embraces the medium, telling a story that can only be told regardless of financial or technological constraints. This is what we should be striving for in comics. We need ideas that can't be expressed in any other medium. We need the world outside to realize that comics are special, and Higher Earth has the potential to do just that.
Kyle Garret is the author of I Pray Hardest When I'm Being Shot At, available now from Hellgate Press. His short fiction has been published in the Ginosko Literary Journal, Literary Town Hall, Children, Churches, & Daddies and Falling Into Place. He writes comic book reviews here at Comics Bulletin and blogs for PopMatters. He can be found at KyleGarret.com and on Twitter at @kylegarret.