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‘Deep Gravity #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review

Dark Horse Comics’ Deep Gravity #1 introduces the reader to Steve Paxon, a “third rate engineer” working for the Maelstrom Science and Technology Corporation on the space freighter Vanguard. The story begins near the end of Vanguard’s three-year journey to the resource-rich, Earth-like planet Poseidon, which is full of deadly — though valuable — plants and animals. If the premise reminds you of Avatar, that is because it is very much like Avatar; however, do not feel too bad for James Cameron, as his film, in turn, borrows much of its own premise from Ferngully, as well as a host of other, earlier stories. Certainly, Deep Gravity is unabashedly derivative, but it is still fun to read, and it has a number of endearing qualities.

Our “hero” is the reason to read and get excited about Deep Gravity #1. Ever-bumbling, naive, and quixotic, Paxon emerges as a failed man on a perhaps doomed adventure. His motivation for chasing the stars is mortifyingly juvenile — squirm inducing, actually. Yet, you can’t help but root for him, if for no other reason than that it would be a shame for someone so flawed to meet such a predictable end in such a cliched venue. 

However, whether or not you’ll find yourself rooting for the Vanguard and the rest of her crew is another matter.  Deep Gravity #1 contains a great deal of exposition delivered as dialogue. It is a curious choice, especially because there are sporadic moments when relevant exposition is introduced through contextualizing third-person narration. So, the storytellers seem to understand that there are alternative ways to deliver such information, but they often choose to charge ahead with less-refined methods.  As a result, we spend less time learning about the secondary characters personalities than we should, and we spend too much time listening to those same characters bark out observations that, one assumes, would be very obvious to people on a three-year-long voyage (e.g., the very fact that the voyage is three years long — a nugget that gets tossed around nearly a half-dozen times in casual conversation).

While sometimes ham handed, the exigence is thankfully softened by Deep Gravity’s serviceable art, which presents the reader with interesting, and sometimes noteworthy, faces and places. Specifically, the interior of the Vanguard is a study in lighting effects, and the same can be said for the desolate and weird surface of Poseidon. Shades and shallows are used to convey a gritty, oftentimes desperate tone that gives each panel real personality, even when the accompanying plot and dialogue fail to captivate. During one particularly memorable moment, one of the corporation’s captured specimens runs amok in dramatic fashion, resulting in a string of explosions that are as charming as they are artful.
For all these reasons, it is too early to say if Deep Gravity will develop into an interesting series; however, what I can say is that this book has an interesting central character and some moderately interesting artwork.




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