A perfect future of intergalactic travel and community. Every newly discovered planet is unified culturally through a monolithic structure known as the Galactic Relay. Although the towering monument is meant to inspire conformity of ideas, technology, and progress – many resent the foreign structure. Jad Carter, a Relay employee, must keep the peace and act as an emissary to new civilizations. But when he finds the Relay’s mythological creator, Hank Donaldson, his idea of reality and the universe shatters.
There’s a lot to unpack in Relay #1. William and Jad are a couple peace officers in an oppressive theocratic society that spreads across the known universe by way of the Relay. Their goal is simply laid out, to keep the peace by conforming every new society to their moral and ethical standards. Conquered, er, enlightened planets face a choice. Acquiescence comes at the cost of their cultural identities and history, but refusal brings annihilation.
As I mentioned, there is a ton of information in this first issue (second, if you count the FCBD zero issue), but for the most part, it’s pretty easy to figure out the gist of what’s happening. Zac Thompson throws together themes of colonialism and religious zeal in a slick sci-fi package. We don’t know a lot about the main couple characters yet, but they definitely have individual voices and tics.
The artwork of Relay is extraordinary. It would be really easy in a story this massive and complex to bury the thread of the story in the sheer scope of the thing. Andy Clarke manages to deliver insanely busy cityscapes and frenetic action sequences without losing the physical and emotional character work.
I’m not entirely sure what’s happening in this book, and I love it. It’s got a little bit of Animal Farm, a little Wizard of Oz, some Judge Dredd, and loads of flying cars and stuff.
Relay #1, published by Aftershock Comics, released 11 July 2018. Written by Zac Thompson, art by Andy Clarke, story by Zac Thomson and Donny Cates, color by Dan Browne, letters by Charles Pritchett.