Postal delivery across the known universe is a life-threatening job where only the toughest and wiliest survive. And new recruit, David S Proton, doesn’t seem to have either of these qualities. A loser in life, he’s taken on one of the most violent jobs in the galaxy, but is he up for the challenge? A brilliantly black-humoured space-romp with plenty of gore and more.
Being a postal service employee is tough. You have to deliver mail through all kinds of conditions, good and bad, rain or shine. But even our hardworking “posties” (as we call them affectionately here in the UK) don’t have it as bad as the mean mercenaries running mail across the known universe as they do in Space Bastards #1 by writers Eric Peterson, Joe Aubrey and The Boys co-creator and artist, Darick Robertson.
Meet the International Postal Service (IPS) and one of its toughest members, Manny Corns – Lobo meets Postman Pat – and his newest ward, David S Proton; a real loser in life.
The set-up, and Robertson’s own involvement in this new series, couldn’t help but remind me of the very same dynamics of early issues of The Boys. The tough, jaded vet taking a poor sap under his wing is very reminiscent of not just The Boys but many other comics too. But, with a huge difference. Writers Aubrey and Peterson take our pre-expectations of such relationships and twists this very common narrative trope to surprise the reader as we journey through this debut issue and get to know the norms, beliefs and values of the IPS employees. We soon learn that, unlike the aforementioned series, Manny isn’t too keen to be anyone’s mentor.
Along the way we meet and greet the cast of character who will drive this plot forward with there now devious plans. Even their employer – the inappropriately dressed Roy Sharpton – who may look like a hippy has morals that are very much the antithesis of anything any hippy would embrace. Everyone, it would seem, has a grift.
Sitting through the orientation video, in which Sharpton appears, his language may well be that of a Haight Ashbury drop-out circa 1967, but his message is anything but peace, love and harmony. But then looks can be deceiving, as we soon learn in following David’s progress. He certainly takes to the job quickly. And quite expertly too. Like I say, I was pleasantly blindsided by the twist in this book. If the artwork by Robertson – who does gore effortlessly after years on The Boys – didn’t sell me on this new title from Humanoids, the story – and in particular Proton’s quicksilver adaptability – really did by the end of this first issue.
Robertson’s artwork is an ideal fit for such a sleazy and dirty universe as the one we find ourselves in. This is a universe with its fair share of dangerous and dark corners to it. And a universe in which everyone seems to be hustling and deceiving one another to stay ahead of the game. One with a wicked streak of dark comedy running throughout. Blood, guts and jokes that are essential to make a a story like this one work.
Originally put out as a crowdfunded graphic novel and now re-packaged as single issues, you don’t just have to be a fan of books like The Boys, but I think it helps. Tough, difficult-to-love central characters who have to either sink or swim in this fast-paced, you-snooze-you-lose, violence-prone universe dreamt up by the creators; by the end of this issue you will most definitely be rooting for Proton. You may even fist-pump the air when you see what a transformation he has undertaken too. And in such a short time. Clearly a more formidable and intelligent character than the one we first meet at the start of this comic book, I found myself invested in him, and in the irresistible rascal Manny Corn too.
A brash, ballsy book with a dark and satisfying humour running through it, with not one but two revelations at the end that should have you hungry for more.
Space Bastards #1 is out Wednesday 13th January from Humanoids