Let me preface my review with an anecdote: Matt Kindt recently tweeted my review of the final issue of his Dept.H, making reference to the fact that my review made him cry. I sat down to read Ether: The Copper Golems #1, ready to dive immediately back into where the story left off: Copper Golems are breaking from the Ether into the real world, and Boone Dias, adventurer and scientist extraordinaire, has to stop them. Amped as I was, within five pages of watching Kindt do some world building, I find myself sitting at my computer, my face wet with tears. I’m not saying I’m keeping score, but I think Mr. Kindt and David Rubin currently have the upper hand.
That’s the great thing about Ether; it's what I like to think of as my special discovery of 2017. You have no idea what’s going to happen next or how it’s going to affect you. The story splits itself between the Ether, a world of stories and imagination, fairies, talking ape things, and full of vibrant colors and strange magical rules, and Earth, a coarse, monochromatic, emotionally devastating place. The juxtaposition of this highly fantastical land, where Boone can heroically march into any situation with a smirk on his face and science in his sheathe, against this raw place called Earth, where his dedication to science and the Ether has wreaked havoc on him as a person and on his personal life, makes those emotional discoveries that much more earth shattering. And with David Rubin’s somehow unearthly ability to create emotion in a single image, to bring these characters to life in unexpected ways, the pathos is that much more unexpected, even when you are expecting it.
I don’t want to give away too much in this issue, but I think the most heartbreaking exchange I’ve ever read occurs between Boone and another character. The dialogue, but not just the dialogue, the way the dialogue is positioned on the page, the way the panels are broken down, and who you see speaking on what panels, the detail in the smallest movements, it’s the most realistic portrayal of what we can call “time dialation,” and the most realistic portrayal of what it’s like between two people who have grown apart from each other. The word choices alone in the first portion of this book as Boone comes face to face with the realities of life on Earth are devastating, especially on a second read…
But then we explode into the Ether, a place where you can only go if you commit yourself to the experience of dying. A place where Boone is a legendary detective, where his adherence to logic and science has solved problems in a world reliant on magic and chaos. Boone sets out on an adventure to find a spellcaster to help seal the holes that these Copper Golems have created, and it’s fun, funny, zany, ridiculous, and everything you want it to be, only this time the weight of everything Boone is leaving behind as a human on Earth follows the reader.
Ether is an adventure like no other. I did not ask for it, I was not looking for it, but I needed it more than anything else.
Creative Team: Matt Kindt (writer), David Rubin (art, letters), Daniel Chabon (editor), Brett Israel (assistant editor), Mike Richardson (publisher), Anita Magaña (designer), Josie Christensen (digital art technician)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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