Port of Earth #1 – An Impressive Hard Sci-Fi Debut
by James Ferguson
An alien race comes down from above not with threats of war, but with offers of business. They want to open a spaceport on Earth and they’re willing to trade advanced technology to do it. When some of the other aliens get a little rowdy and leave the port, it’s up to the Earth Security Agents to keep them in line. It’s kind of like a more militaristic Men in Black.
Port of Earth wastes no time in establishes its world. Writer Zack Kaplan quickly gets you up to speed as to how we got to this point through the use of a newscaster recounting previous events. This is coupled with some jaw-dropping artwork from Andrea Mutti that gives you an idea of the scale of this story. This is something that humanity was completely unprepared for and definitely something that we’ve never encountered, although wondered about, for some time.
This kind of exposition dump could have come across as dry or text-heavy. Instead, it flows smoothly and pulls you in deeper and deeper as the story progresses. This takes up about half of the first issue, but it doesn’t feel that way. It’s a history lesson I can get behind.
A big part of this is how Mutti’s artwork tends to pull back to show real widescreen images, particularly with the alien spaceship and the eventual port. These are intricately detailed pages showing a near-futuristic waystation. Port of Earth somehow makes something as boring as freight and logistics really intriguing.
Colorist Vladimir Popov gives Port of Earth an almost black-and-white look. This works well in the first half of the issue as it mainly consists of the newscast. It continues with the present day story as if there’s an overcast in the sky. This world may be witnessing wonders of space travel, but it has cast a cloud of sorts over it.
The aliens featured throughout the comic are varied and well designed. They’re all more than a little creepy. Each is pretty unique too. Some have tendrils. Others are confined to space suits, presumably because they can’t breathe in Earth’s atmosphere. There are some that are just floating blobs of flesh.
The second half of the issue delves into the ESA, specifically with agents McIntyre and Rice. There’s a buddy cop vibe here through the lens of Starship Troopers. You get a good idea of their personalities and how they work together right off the bat. They look more like soldiers than police officers, decked out in special armor and equipped with advanced weaponry.
Port of Earth is off to an impressive start. There’s a bit of a Robotech vibe to it in how the story begins which is always welcome. It takes a brilliant hard sci-fi approach to the idea of aliens visiting our world, detailing how it could all occur and what the fall out would be around the globe. After seamlessly setting everything up in record time, the comic pivots to what could easily be an ongoing police procedural focused on tracking down aliens. Law & Order: Alien Victims Unit.
Port of Earth #1 is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.