At a glance, one might take Faster Than Light Light (written and illustrated by Brian Haberlin, who has worked on such titles as Spawn and Witchblade and the titanic augmented reality graphic novel Anomaly) for something along the lines of 2001: A Space Odyssey or, more contemporarily, Interstellar. And, to a point, it is; Faster Than Light takes place in the near future, and most of the technology still looks pretty recognizably extrapolated from the kind of stuff NASA works with today. But Faster Than Light really takes its cues from Star Trek. It doesn’t pretend otherwise, either. The first issue devotes nearly a page to Star Trek references. If you keep track of my reviews here on Fanboy Comics, you’ll know I’m a hardcore Star Trek fan, and I make the comparison between Star Trek and Faster Than Light in the most complimentary way possible. Still, Faster Than Light is its own beast.
It’s sometime in the near future, and mankind has unlocked the secret to faster than light travel – or, rather, we’ve found someone else’s notes on how to unlock it. A craft intended for an upcoming manned mission to Mars is refitted and pressed into service as Earth’s first interstellar craft, renamed Discovery. While the public face of this mission is one of brave exploration, the captain, William Forest, knows the truth: that the key to faster-than-light travel came with a dire warning, and we’re going to need all the help we can get. In no time, the crew of Discovery is encountering new life and new civilizations. There are a lot of secrets here; we, like some of Forest’s crew, don’t know everything that the people behind this mission know about the impending threat to Earth, and the Discovery runs across new enigmas, too. Haberlin’s pacing is quite effective at keeping you hungry for new revelations while still keeping focus on whatever crisis Discovery’s present mission involves.
A key feature here is Faster Than Light’s free augmented reality companion app for your iOS or Android device. I haven’t read Anomaly, and the AR offerings from publishers like Marvel have been difficult to access at best, but Faster Than Light’s are extremely fluid and usable. Several pages per issue offer up AR features – from crew bios and technology specs to detailed biological data on alien lifeforms and even a Flappy Bird-like mini-game – and while these are not critical to enjoying the story, they hold tons of detail that some readers will relish digging into. Many of these entries are accompanied by 3D models of various things from the comic page. Each issue, too, comes with the captain’s logs, which are fully voiced and accompanied by a 3D model of Forest himself, animated as he makes his log entry. In short, this comic really sells what AR can bring to the medium.
I fell in love with Faster Than Light at super-luminal speeds. On its own, it is a well put-together, firm sci-fi comic with a mind toward scientific intellectualism more than sheer guns-first adventure. With the excellently executed AR features, this volume represents a compelling start to an exciting series.