Catching Up On Skyward #6 & 7: Peter Pan And The Walking Dead With Giant Bugs

by Richard Bruton

When last we talked Skyward, it was with issue 5, the end of the first story-arc. Five issues of incredible comics adventures where both the premise of a world where gravity pretty much switched off two decades ago, and the characters, especially young Willa, one of the post G-Day kids, making a life in a world where all she’s known is the freedom of near zero-G, are wonderful things. Now, we’re heading into the second story-arc, a chance for both creative team and characters to explore the wonders of the world beyond the big city.

This is Willa and that smile tells you so much about her character and her life…

As writer Joe Henderson says in this interview with Hannah Means-Shannon:

She IS buoyant, which I love about her! I really wanted her personality to mirror our low-G world. Also, I’m tired of dystopias, so I wanted to tell a story in a near future where a terrible thing happened…and then humanity survived. In some ways, it thrived. This world isn’t really better or worse than ours, just different. Different horrors, different joys, different hopes, different dangers. And it’s the only world Willa’s ever known.

And if you want a perfect recap of what’s happened so far, there’s nothing better than this, the original pitch from Joe Henderson…

Yes, Willa is a wonderful character in a wonderful world. It’s a terrifying world for many, used to the security of being fixed, firmly, to the floor. A world where not being tethered could see you float up to your death. But, for those like Willa, it’s a magical world, where you can fly free, light as a feather. The beauty of the comic comes from the development of the world we see, something Henderson does with style, simply presenting us with a huge change and then exploring just what it might mean for humanity. And, of course, without an artist of Lee Garbett’s caliber, it wouldn’t be anything like the delightful series that it is.

In the five issues thus far, we’ve met Willa, met her father, discovered that he may have had a big part to play in the disaster that caused low-G day, alongside his research partner, Roger Barrow, and seen Willa have to endure another heartbreaking loss. Now, it’s time to see her explore the world. First stop… train to Kansas City. Why Kansas City? Because…

Barrow’s hot on her heels, desperate to recover Willa’s father’s journal, convinced it holds the key to reversing G-day, restoring the world to what it was and, in the process, stripping Barrow of both money and power he’s built up exploiting the world in the guise of its saviour. Which is how Willa, Edison, and a far too nosy journalist find themselves on a train, stopped, in the middle of the forest. Which turns out to be a very bad thing, all foreshadowed by Willa’s dad last issue… something about insect’s growing bigger in low-grav conditions. Something that turns out to be dangerously true and the reason humanity is stuck in the cities, cause big insect are bad news…

Oh yes, another one of those brilliant little science ideas that Henderson is so good at throwing around in Skyward… insects get bigger in low-G, something to do with the effects of lower gravity on circulatory systems and oxygen transmission. A beautifully introduced bit of biology.

In issue 7, it all goes, very weirdly a bit Peter Pan, with giant, human-eating dragonflies instead of crocodiles, and a refugee from an episode of The Walking Dead and his sidekick as Peter and Tinkerbell. But, even this is all taken in our stride, thanks to Henderson and Garbett, plus we get this, frankly genius, moment…

Now, that is a magnificent line!

Yep, Skyward goes from strength to strength. The first arc, “My Low-G Life” was a fabulous introduction and this second, “Here Be Dragonflies”, keeps it all going so beautifully well. A fabulous book.

Skyward Issues 6 and 7 are out now from Image Comics. Written by Joe Henderson, art by Lee Garbett, colors by Antonio Fabela, letters by Simon Bowland.

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