Ryder, The Rising Reviews

Part of Radical Publishing’s new Radical Premiere line of comics (which seems to be mature first issues for only $1) are these 2 great reads, which were included in Radical’s 7 new releases for last week (their most yet I believe).

First up is The Rising. With a name like that it may sound like some dodgy horror film from the ’90s in which some mysterious creature devours hapless townfolk. What it’s really about is more interesting. A brutal sci-fi tale with the kind of profanity and blood that makes me think it’s a lost 2000AD story, The Rising could be something quite entertaining. Could be, but it isn’t there just yet, which is just as well considering this is a teaser for next year’s mini-series.

It does well to present a beautifully painted package from J.P. Targete, who’s working on the upcoming John Carter of Mars film, filled with the kind of sweaty soldiers and creepy aliens to lay a solid foundation for what would make a great video game. The story by E. Max Frye (from HBO’s Band of Brothers) throws out enough concepts loosely familiar to fans of Aliens and Avatar, but also intriguing elements that reveal the future mini-series has a solid ground upon which to build an intriguing universe.

It opens with a squad of rugged sci-fi soldiers desperately fighting some well armed aliens. The sergeant carries a man writhing in pain called Blithe, before the pair of them get hit, and separated, by a lightning strike from a hovering drone. Then an astonishing 7 almost silent pages follow. Yes, 7. At first I thought I thought the text had fallen off these pages or had somehow became invisible. After a second read, it actually made perfect, although unexpected, sense. Basically the mute pages show Blithe discovered by an attractive near naked woman who takes him back to her village, where he gets a beard and a loincloth, heals, watches a tribal dance, cosies up with his rescuer and then, of course, escapes with his life as his newfound forest friends get attacked by those pesky alien intruders.

Cut to future New York, in which we primarily learn there’s a female President (who announces the end of the war with the alien Dracs), and Blithe’s brother is apparently a powerful politician who has no patience for his sibling. Oh, and Blithe is a prisoner in a tough camp who receives a visit from a hypocritical reverend who unleashes a man mountain called Darwin on the rebellious Blithe for a Fight Club of sorts.

The second half is much better. It’s wordier and more happens, and there’s something about a virus which must certainly become more prominent in the mini-series. That, and the mixed feelings about the Drac’s arrival on earth could make for a good tale. So far, it’s not entirely original, but thankfully there’s also hints of its ambition. Plus, every page looks colourful, dazzling and gaze worthy, as any sci-fi comic should. See a preview here.

Ryder on the Storm is another $1 primer, though a more mature offering than The Rising. Writer David Hine and artist Wayne Nichols throw a mix of influences on the page, but they all work splendidly together. It’s kind of like a future as seen through 1930s eyes, or a noir film set in the world of Batman: The Animated Series.

Ryder is a P.I who’s approached by a lady ¬†with a mysterious back tattoo, as she’s somehow found herself in a room with her rich dead boyfriend, who killed himself with a power drill. Or so it seems.

Hine introduces several characters with ease and Nichols clean, crisp (even in the bloody parts) artwork may not be as lush as Radical’s usual titles, but it works well here.

With a classic pulp approach (ice queen, “voice-over”, people with secrets) this is a great set up with enough dangling hooks to make the upcoming 3 ish, bi-monthly mini a worthwhile read. See a preview here.