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‘Ark:’ Graphic Novel Review



ArkThirteen years into its deep-space journey, the Explorer loses all communications with Earth . . . or so it seems.

In the graphic novel Ark, a colonization ship stocked with a human crew overseeing the education and training of “metas” or hybrids of humanoid plant or animal beings, the Explorer hasn’t received a message from home in months.  Drawing on the intelligence of one of the metas, Captain Smith (in a nod to Titanic?) discovers the horrible truth behind their mission, a secret that will lead to an upheaval of everything they believe about their journey.

We follow several main characters (both human and hybrid) through the story, giving us a broad window into this new world, and while some of the minor characters may be less 3 dimensional than others, they still manage to generate a compelling story that touches on some of the best tropes brought out in other series (such as the Battlestar:Galactica reboot), most especially what does it mean to be human . . . and is that a good thing?  And, how do separate species manage to work together when trust is a dwindling resource?

Paranoia runs the gamut across both species.  Writer Peter Dabbene is canny enough to not paint one side or the other as completely black or white, but showing that this fear of “the other” can touch anyone in a time of crisis, no matter how open or compassionate they believe themselves.  Yes, we’ve seen parts of this story in other sci-fi or comic works before, but Dabbene manages to give it a freshness that could raise it above other works of this nature.

Ryan Bayliss’ art has a painterly quality to it, though it still carries a tinge of self-conscious computer generation.  But, he’s still managed to give each of the characters a unique look that reflects the world view given to them by Dabbene’s writing. 

While walking a fine line between storytelling and proselytizing, Ark serves more as an appetizer than a meal.  It gives you a taste and a hint of a larger story but doesn’t feel like a full experience.  While the self-contained story does resolve itself in this volume, the open-ended nature of that tale seems to cry out for a continuing series to explore the issues and characters that this storyline hints at.  Moving forward, Dabbene and Arcana may be able to dig deeper into this story that has barely scratched the surface.



Tony Caballero, Fanbase Press Contributor



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