World Reader, Aftershock’s promising new Sci-Fi horror title is an absolute joy to read for fans of heady space stories like Arrival or Prometheus. Writer Jeff Loveness (Groot, Jimmy Kimmel Live!) and artist Juan Doe (American Monster, Animosity: The Rise) team up to produce a certified page-turner that will leave readers in heavy-breathing fits of nerdy anticipation for the next issue.
In issue 1 we’re introduced to Sarah, a psychic astronaut who talks to space ghosts. Not a word of that is hyperbole by the way; it’s an actual quote from Harris, Sarah’s confidant and presumably only friend on an endless series of missions exploring long-dead worlds. While Sarah’s curmudgeonly commanding officer Captain Fields seems to see these planets as nothing more than lifeless hunks of potential mineral samples, Sarah must use her supernatural ability to try and unlock the hidden secrets of these long-gone civilizations in order to prevent Earth from suffering the same fate.
One of my all-time favorite quotes from anything is featured in the Futurama episode Godfellas, in which Bender, set adrift in space for all eternity, meets God. The omniscient cluster of stars imparts an incredible nugget of truth, “You have to use a light touch, like a pickpocket or a safecracker.” I think that rings true in pretty much every aspect of life, and in this case, Loveness takes that philosophy to heart in the best way possible. One common downfall for many science fiction stories, especially in first issues, is that writers tend to frontload the story with a lot of details and world building. Unfortunately, this often makes for a tedious read that bogs the story down in details and leaves all the fun bits for later. Loveness does exactly the opposite with this story, delivering a moving and well-paced plot that gives just enough for the reader to understand the world that they’re being introduced to, while the plotline naturally progresses in front of the reader. This could have easily passed for an edge-of-your-seat episode of Black Mirror; with a cliffhanger ending that will surely keep readers coming back for many months to come.
No comic book is complete with mere writing alone. In order to be truly whole, a good book needs great art and Juan Doe delivers in spades, matching the tone set by Loveness’ story and at times taking complete control of the narrative. On the outset, we are met with a cover that feels reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. From there we’re treated to grounded “real world” images of Sarah exploring an expansive alien planet to the flashback-inducing psychedelic plane of Sarah’s psychic visions. The most eye-catching aspect of this book has to be its incredible color palate. Doe utilizes a unique blend of bright colors that really gives the feeling that we’re looking at something otherworldly.
The bottom line here is that World Reader is a book that you need to put on your pull list immediately. This is an absolute must buy for Sci-fi fanatics and casual comic fans alike, with a cinematic narrative that practically melts from page to page. Aftershock hits another home run with this Must Buy title.