Advance Review: Canopus #1 Tests Your Mind And Stamina In The Far Reaches Of Space

by James Ferguson

What would you do if you woke up on an alien planet with no one around but an annoying robot? That’s where Helen finds herself. Her memory is hazy, but she knows she has to return to Earth or the planet is doomed. She struggles to piece together how she got here, discovering untold horrors along the way. One thing is for certain, she’s not alone on this planet after all.

Canopus is strange. It’s an unsettling comic that plays with the idea of isolation in the far reaches of space, much like the movie Moon did. As such, I’m not sure if the robot, Arthur is helping or hurting the story. He adds some comic relief here and there, but that can occasionally take away from the tension that’s building. The one saving grace here could be how he refers to Helen as his mother. I’m betting there’s more to this than just someone owning a robot.

Where Canopus really excels is the chilling way Helen’s memories start to rush back to her. Creator Dave Chisholm shows these as gorgeous double-page spreads full of small images, each revealing a different aspect of her personality. We get a few of these over the course of the first issue and each one fills in a tremendous amount of backstory for Helen without distracting from the overall narrative. If anything, it propels it forward at a faster pace. It’s even more important that she gets home.

I say this without knowing why she’s feeling such urgency. You just know that it’s a big deal. Canopus allows us to fill in some blanks, making us just as much a part of the story as Helen is. We’re figuring this out at the same speed as her so it’s a riveting mystery to solve.

Chisholm changes the tone of the book when these memories pop up, shifting everything to a lighter shade to differentiate them from the rest of the comic. This contrasts well with the dark, ominous feeling of the rest of Canopus that’s mixed with bright pinks and reds to highlight the sci-fi aspect of the series.

Helen has a look of ragged desperation to her. This seems to grow as the issue continues and her path home becomes questionable. A look of shock comes over her as she realizes the links some items have to her past and how there’s no possible way they can be here on this far off planet. It’s a chilling idea. If it was presented as a movie or a TV show, there would be an eerie soundtrack playing in the background.

Things get pretty crazy by the end of Canopus #1, showing the dangers this mysterious planet holds and how they’re personally connected to Heather. It opens up a ton of questions with the most important one being “When can I read more?” It forces you to question what is real and what could be a figment of Helen’s imagination. Is she an unreliable narrator? Or is this place just that creepy? This is like Lost with an unsettling sci-fi twist.

Canopus from Scout Comics is set for release on February 12th, 2020. The final order cutoff date for comic shops is January 3rd, 2020.

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