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Bad Planet

Posted: Wednesday, July 7, 2010
By: Michael Deeley

Thomas Jane & Steve Niles
James Daly III & Lewis Larosa (p) with Tim Bradstreet (i)
Rw Studios
Alien spiders crash on Earth and begin eating everyone in sight. Humanity’s only hope for survival lies with a fugitive alien warrior whose own planet and people were exterminated by these spiders. However, the death of his world, and this attack on ours, are not accidents.

In the afterword to Bad Planet, the creators talk about how they were inspired to do this comic by the sci-fi comics of old--the EC books, Ray Bradbury, Creepy, Eerie, and the legendary artists who drew them. They wanted to recapture the excitement, shock, and wonder of those old books--and they mostly succeeded.

Bad Planet has an old-fashioned plot with a grindhouse style. It doesn’t take itself too seriously; just seriously enough to convey the dangers. This book has a bloodthirsty general named “Wahrmunger,” a sexy lady astronomer who gets her clothes torn off, an African orphan boy who’s a genius at everything, a solution involving homemade Tesla coils, and a flying Cadillac. There’s humor, drama, horror, politics, satire, social commentary, and a little hope. Some of it’s even in 3-D.

The creators tried to put everything in this book that you don’t see in today’s comics. Lucky for us, they make it all work. The story flows quickly and logically from event to event. Even the most fantastic elements are believable because they’re rooted in human emotions. Feelings drive this story and the attack.

We learn that the alien’s planet was destroyed for political reasons. His people were exterminated because it was more beneficial than helping them. Such coldness is reflected on Earth in Gen. Wahrmunger’s desire to nuke Washington, D.C. to destroy the spiders.

As much as I like the story, it’s the art that carries the show. It’s drawn in a style you only see in sci-fi and fantasy comics. You can see the influence of Simon Bisley, Frank Frazetta, and fantasy art in general. This is a living world. You can practically feel it breathe. The nameless alien is very well-designed. His image on the cover is iconic.

Sadly, the story was penciled by two different men. The change in styles is noticeable. While it’s not a big difference, the second penciller, (presumably Larosa), is weaker than the first. Fortunately Tim Bradstreet’s inking helps give the tale a unified look--and the 14 pages in 3-D (glasses included) are the best 3-D work I’ve ever seen in a comic book.

Dave Kendall painted the alien’s story of his homeworld’s end. It looks like something about a lost past. The muted colors are dimmed with time. The alien’s armor is both advanced and classical. This was a time long ago in a past long forgotten. The art conveys the sadness and loneliness of the narrator.

Much of Bad Planet feels familiar. The characters, plot points, and even humor are common in sci-fi stories. Some might say clichéd. However, they’re executed with such style and naturalism that they appear fresh and new.

We’ve seen elements of the story, but we’ve never seen this story. As if the comic wasn’t enough, it’s published in a format larger than most comic books. It’s as big as a video game strategy guide. Extra material includes pin-up art, print ads, sketches, and an interview with the creators--all for $20, which makes Bad Planet a great book and a great value.

I’m looking forward to volume two.



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