A small crew of workers makes their way through the asteroid belt, dropping robotic crawlers to help catalog what they find. So far, mostly it’s been rocks, rocks, and more rocks. But when a mysterious giant asteroid appears before them, they have to explore.
Back in chapter 1, Steve Niles set us up with some great character development and dropped us in the middle of space on board some kind of hauler. The crew is on some sort of reconnaissance mission, dropping “crawlers” on asteroids, activating the drones, then moving on to the next rock. Everything’s business as usual until they come across a huge, uncharted asteroid that basically swallows the ship.
Delta 13, chapter 2, opens up on the rock, where the crew has turned loose one of their wickedly expensive, high tech drones. When the drone disappears without a trace, instead of bailing, they obviously have to send out a team to retrieve it. If they happen to find something odd and scary outside, well then, clearly, the safe, responsible thing to do would be to bring it back in the ship, yeah? What’s the worst that could happen?
Steve Niles is playing the long game thus far, drawing us in with steady development and comfortable horror/sci-fi tropes. The pieces are still coming together, but this is the chapter that sets the hook. Relationships are pretty well laid out, the setting is firmly established, and by the final pages of this chapter, the threat is revealed.
Nat Jones is employing a very simple, cinematic style on both line and color duties. The linework is clean, with just enough detail to tell a complete story, without getting too busy or distracting with a lot of GNDN. Jones’ blues and greys work really well for man-made lighting in the vacuum of space. Occasional dissonant splashes of bright red crank up the tension and put the reader on their heels.
Delta 13 is a solid space horror for lovers of space horror. The pacing is slow, sure, but I’ve a feeling business is about to pick up.
Delta 13 #2, published by IDW, released on the 20th of June 2018. Written by Steve Niles, art/cover by Nat Jones, letters by Tom. B. Long.