Skyward #5: Willa’s Tale Takes Flight With The End Of The First Arc

by Richard Bruton

I said it right from the first issue of Skyward, but now, with this final part of the 5-issue ‘My Low-G Life‘ story-arc, I’ll say it again; this is a fabulously positive piece of character work and an absolutely fantastical tale from Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett. Through five issues, they’ve brilliantly mixed a fabulously intriguing high concept idea (what if gravity all but turned off overnight?) with the story of one young girl who’s never known anything but this world. It’s one of three Image books right now, including this, Analog, and The Weatherman, that are all delivering that killer one-two of great characters and a cracking high-concept storyline. All three are excellent books that you should really be picking up.

Through these five issues, Skyward’s concentrated on the contrasting worldviews of Willa, delighting in the freedom that living in this low-G world brings, untethered by Newton’s laws, and those of her father, terrified so much by the world that even leaving the house is too much to bear. And it’s a story that’s been played out so well these past five issues.

In fact, the actual over-arching storyline beyond Willa, her dad, and exploring this strange low-G world that’s developed through ‘My Low-G Life’, that of the threat of the big bad guy, Willa’s father’s old colleague back when they were working on their gravity theory, before the chaos of G-day – has almost been unnecessary, to be honest. I think Skyward could have held off that one until later, so good has the development of the comic been through just Willa, her father, and her friends.

So, absolute credit to writer Joe Henderson and artist Lee Garbett, for giving us a spectacularly uplifting series, packed with glorious visuals to perfectly capture the intriguingly realised ideas. Just like this one…I didn’t spoiler it in the review of issue 4, but it’s fair game now – just what does a storm look like in a world where gravity is almost non-existent?

Like this…

That’s just the sort of thing Henderson’s been peppering the pages of Skyward with, the sort of real-world implications of a different set of scientific laws, the sorts of clever things you don’t think about until you see them on the page, all delivered with aplomb by Garbett. (And you can just imagine the artist’s first read of the script – “Lee, I’d like to see a near zero-G storm, something like a giant raindrop but full of threat and energy” – and Garbett thinking, “Bloody hell, here we go again.”)

Anyway, here in issue 5, it’s an ending of sorts, with Willa rescuing her dad from his ill-advised decision to go out (finally) in a storm, and a face-off with big baddie Roger Barrow. And, as you’d expect after reading Skyward so far, it’s all done quite brilliantly. The smartness of Willa coming out yet again, as she gets creative with an oxygen tank and a gun to get to Barrow, yet another example of just how clever and thought out even the smallest details are in Skyward

So, it’s the end to the first story-arc and, although I’ll not spoiler anything, I will say that it sets things up incredibly well for this great character to move on, and for writer, artist, and us readers to explore the world along with her. The care-free light in her eyes may be tempered by things that have gone on thus far, but she’s turned into a truly great female protagonist, strong, adventurous, inventive, and I can’t wait to see where the future takes her.

Next issue – giant bugs. No, seriously. Willa’s dad mentioned ’em in passing this issue, something about a theory that they’d grow bigger in low-grav conditions, and there they are on next issue’s cover. Cool.

Skyward Issue 5 is out now from Image Comics. Written by Joe Henderson, art by Lee Garbett, colors by Antonio Fabela, letters by Simon Bowland.

And here’s next issue’s cover…

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