Image Comics – Top Cow
(W) Zack Kaplan, (A) Andrea Mutti, (C) Vladimir Popov
Port of Earth #1 is an ambitious opening salvo that accomplishes a lot within its twenty-two pages of story. Despite its standard page count, writer Zack Kaplan and artist Andrea Mutti make efficient use of the space to introduce readers to this new world – including a brief history – and our main characters. It’s quite impressive, considering that most comics with an oversized page count do less despite having more real estate to work with.
The premise is one that serves as a commentary of capitalism and corporate culture. First contact with extraterrestrial life has occurred, but rather than coming in peace or coming to invade, they’ve come with a business proposition. Earth will be used as an intergalactic port, and in return they’ll solve our energy crisis. It seems like a win-win, especially since there’s to be no interactions between aliens and humans outside of the port. Shockingly, that plan doesn’t stick. That leads to the creation of the Earth Security Agency (or “ESA”), where we meet our two protagonists, Eric McIntyre and George Rice.
Kaplan uses Port of Earth to shed light on the exploitative nature of corporations. Many people are aware of the heinous acts by companies like Nestle or Nike, but because their unsavory operations do not have a personal impact on them, they are left indifferent. Port of Earth takes puts these people in this position, and it may be an eye-opener to some. Seeing the world as you know it undone, helpless against the forces of a large entity, is a terrifying experience which the creative team effectively conveys.
The world created by Andrea Mutti and colorist Vladimir Popov is very recognizable. Unlike most sci-fi fare, this world isn’t sterile and full of clean lines, but messy. There is very little color throughout, as grey skies and buildings dominate the world. Even the characters, who represent a number of different races, are shaded with a twinge of grey. It represents the morally ambiguous nature of not only this world, but our world. Much of what transpires in Port of Earth is a commentary on actions in today’s culture, and that includes the artwork. Unfortunately, the side effect of this choice is that the book as a whole looks rather bland.
Port of Earth #1 is a fascinating science fiction tale that encapsulates the genre’s best characteristics. Zack Kaplan and Andrea Mutti have created a world that is vast and rich with storytelling potential. Like an onion, this book is full of layers, and it should be exciting to see each of them peeled back as larger story unfolds.