I’ve been reading the Aftershock Comic series Shipwreck since its first issue, and it isn’t the fastest comic to be released, having started in October 2016, and we’re currently on the fourth issue, but it is a comic that has stayed true to its course over that time.
It started as a visually arresting comic drawn by Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur and written by Warren Ellis, leading us into strange mysteries and even stranger science on a world that wasn’t quite earth but harboring at least one earthling. Mark Englert’s haunting use of colors adds the final touches while Marshall Dillon brings nicely nuanced lettering to the mix. At times seeming like a fever dream of a man lost in the desert only to occasionally stumble into a dirty motel room and sleep for a bit, the stark, angular linework Hester and Gapstur bring to the comic makes you feel as if every action and movement contains some kind of deeper meaning.
And it probably does. In the hands of Warren Ellis, the plot seems to be a slow rotation around the concept of “Forward Escape”, the idea of needing to find a new home world for humankind. Our main character Shipwright was part of a crew who “apported” to this other dimension or world and now can’t seem to get home. And yet he’s held to be responsible, it seems, for terrible things by initiating this contact. He seems to have paid for his crimes in wearying and self-annealing journeys around a barren landscape.
We’re still locked in that mystery, but it is being gradually revealed. In this issue, #4, Shipwright meets a scientist from this world who is appraised of the technology he has worked with and actually wants to talk to him and compare notes. This seems like a very positive development–if a potentially dangerous one. Along with that fateful encounter, we get flashbacks to Shipwright’s original mission presented in even more stunning artwork, almost Kirby Fourth World in style by Hester and Gapstur. Englert also brings in really inventive colors to set these locations apart from our “main” storyline–the turquoise and green in this issue are riveting.
This comic continues to be darkly funny, too–including an aside on “Rabbit Drink” that Shipwright steals from a vending machine, worried only in passing that it might be real rabbits, but tastes too full of chemicals to be. Or does it.
There are a lot worse worlds to be lost in than one created by this creative team, so bring on the roll out. Sticking with Shipwreck may be amusingly long-term, but it has never fallen short of the wait.
Shipwreck #4 is out in shops this week, as of May 3rd, 2017, and issue #5 is expected in August 2017.