Elon Musk Fan-Fiction? The Last Space Race #1 From Aftershock

by Josh Davison

Sasha Balodis is a billionaire CEO who is obsessed with making it into space. He runs Pigeon Spacelines, a company that is working out a means by which people can fly commercially into Earth’s orbit and, one day, a settlement on Mars. However, he is approached by the government. They have potentially made first contact with an alien space craft in the Solar System, and they want Sasha Balodis to help the U.S government to build a craft to go near Saturn and intercept this craft.

The Last Space Race #1 cover by Alex Shibao and Natalia Marques
The Last Space Race #1 cover by Alex Shibao and Natalia Marques

The Last Space Race #1 is a slow-moving read. It introduces Sasha, a couple of other characters, and its premise. Everything beyond that is one-liners and foreshadowing.
Some of the dialogue is rough; every character tries to deliver one-liners frequently, and it becomes tedious quickly.
The real strange novelty of The Last Space Race #1 is that it reads like the beginnings of an Elon Musk fan-fiction. Once you pick up on that, the comic feels a little…gross.
A lot of this comic can be run parallel to Musk, Space X, and his Falcon launches. I’m aware of my own hang-ups, and outright hero worship of a billionaire in a comic like this trips over pretty much all of them. That said, there is a stigma to the term “fan-fiction”– namely that the writing quality is in the pits–that The Last Space Race #1 doesn’t deserve. It’s not an awful read.
Good comics can come from myth-making about real figures. AfterShock’s own Rough Riders and Monstro Mechanica come to mind. That said, the rules change a bit when we are talking about current figures, and it’s usually seen as good form to cop to the person’s negative qualities (that’s something Monstro Mechanica does well). For example, Sasha Balodis spends zero panels getting into Twitter fights with absolutely anyone.
The comic isn’t awful, but, if it were more interesting, the Musk-iness would probably bother me less. I have my own personal feelings on Musk, but they could be overshadowed by a great story. As it is, the comparisons to the man are probably the most interesting things about this.
I’m not sure if The Last Space Race #1 is intending to be myth-making about Elon Musk, was inspired by his exploits, or if writer Peter Calloway has literally never heard of him. Assuming authorial intent is pretty much always a bad idea. Regardless, the comic still feels like a send-up to the man who called a rescue worker a “pedo” on social media.
It is important to mention that there are the beginnings of a subplot about Balodis’ family that does separate him quite far from Musk.
The Last Space Race #1 art by Alex Shibao and Natalia Marques
The Last Space Race #1 art by Alex Shibao and Natalia Marques

These caveats aside, Alex Shibao’s artwork is quite good, and the visual design of Balodis’ rocket and spacesuits are solid. The characters are expressive, and the overall aesthetic of the comic looks good. Natalia Marques’ color work is similarly solid and gives a nice visual balance to the book.
The Last Space Race #1 is a bit of a middling opener with some rough dialogue and solid artwork. The aforementioned comparisons to Elon Musk don’t help the comic in my measure, but I will cop to some subjectivity there. I can’t quite recommend the comic, because it doesn’t offer anything especially unique or gripping. However, it’s not especially bad either and could potentially offer an interesting read to a lover of more realistic sci-fi grounded in the present.
The Last Space Race #1 comes to us from writer Peter Calloway, artist Alex Shibao, color artist Natalia Marques, letterer Marshall Dillon, and cover artists Shibao and Marques.

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