Storywise, we’re not given a whole heaping pile of background. We meet the team in situ as they uncover a new alien world that promptly confuses then attempts to kill them. Through some deftly subtle exposition, we get the gist of this group’s mission: to create an atlas of . . . something. Not quite sure if it’s galaxy, uni- or multiverse, but at this rate I’ll enjoy wherever they go with glee, mostly due to the fun I mentioned earlier. This stems from some of the tightest and wackiest dialogue I’ve seen in a book in a while; the wit is as sharp as the weapons and almost as dangerous. Each character has a definite and bold personality, leaving little need for overlong explanations and the ability to get straight to the fun.
Part of what makes these characters so great is their design. Matt Groenig (of Simpson’s fame) said that the best way to have unique characters is to make them identifiable by silhouette. He certainly proved the point well enough; shadows of Homer, Marge, Fry and Nibbler are instantly recognizable and they have the same thing going here. The visual cues to each character carry a lot of the personality weight, and it’s really a sensational job. It might feel like they’re a bit cliché now, but coupled with the script, I see big things in the way of being surprised by seemingly stock (but totally badass) characters.
I don’t think I stopped grinning from the first page of this book, and I know that “Space Bollocks” will become general usage for me soon (much to the assured chagrin of my wife and family, no doubt). If you want to see what Dr. Who could be like without all the morals and with a somehow even stranger group of knuckleheads, this book is something you’ll certainly want to check out. (And, D&D nerds, there’s a Coat of Holding . . . I can’t think of how to make such a thing entirely practical, but it’s a very cool idea.)
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