Arks is a new Kickstarter-funded independent comic that tells the story of two interplanetary explorers and engineers, Lilith and Joseph, and their attempts to settle on a new world.
One of the things that makes the story of Arks immediately stand out as different is the method of space travel used in this book. So many times in science fiction writers get around the issues of massive distance by having ships able to travel faster than light, or having their crews in suspended animation for long periods. Whilst these methods have become commonly accepted it also means that they’re a little boring, a little normal. R.J. Collins seems to have come up with something very different though.
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In Arks people have managed to travel into deep space and terraform new worlds by sending small canisters filled with bacteria into deep space. These canisters fall into the primordial oceans of these worlds and begin the process of reshaping things, the genetic material in the bacteria recreating Earth flora and fauna, including two human ‘crew members’, who are recreated whole with their old memories. This is how we meet our protagonists, Joseph and Lilith.
Joseph was awoken before Lilith, however, and has been trying to survive on a somewhat hostile planet alone. He’s been surviving by capturing animals and crafting traps and weapons, but thanks to several injuries and allergic reactions isn’t doing too well. But when Lilith is recreated the two of them are reunited, and are able to set out to find help for Joseph deep in the forest.
The plot of Arks is more expanded on the Kickstarter, and hints at bigger things to come in the story as the two engineers make some startling discoveries regarding their new home. On its own, however, the first issue ignores the larger story and focuses instead on the characters, making sure that the reader gets a chance to know our leads before things expand further in future issues.
Collins lets the reader learn things slowly, revealing small parts of the backstory for the most part, before filling in a lot of the answers towards the end when the two are finally reunited. It’s a decent way of bringing readers in, and you spend the first half of the book wondering what’s going on before getting most of these answers. I liked that there was a sense of mystery, but that answers weren’t held back until later issues, as that would have impacted the enjoyment of issue one.
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The book has some interesting art too, and it looks to have been created digitally, or at least coloured that way. It has a mixture of art where some of it looks very crisp and clear, whilst other parts have a much messier and busy feel to it. These parts usually differ between the more advanced technology we briefly see and the wildness of the planet and the animals that inhabit it, and it makes for a stark contrast between the two different worlds that we’re seeing.
There’s a lot of promise in Arks, and clearly a lot more that the creator wants to do with the project. Hopefully their Kickstarter continues to do well, and we’ll be able to see more of how this story unfolds as time goes on.
Arks #1 is out now from Clicky Sprout Wife.