Cold War drama meets sci-fi surrealism in another mind-bending issue of Primordial by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino. Two separate plots, with two separate art styles.
I had previously compared Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s Primordial to 2001: A Space Odyssey, but by this third issue if certainly feels more like Disney’s The Incredible Journey. But in space. And with a heavy dose black ops too.
As with the second issue, the two plots, and separate distinctive art styles adopted, are swapped back and forth to create tension and drip feed the unravelling revelations. In space Jack terrier, Laika, and the two monkey cosmonauts, Able and Baker, get to know each other while tapping into some astrophysical quantum reality warping force. Meanwhile grounded on Earth and in the Berlin of 1961 Yelena explains a little bit more about the Russian space programme post-Sputnik 2. Interrupted dramatically by bloody and dying Dimitri stumbling through the door. It’s all very Cold War era cloak and dagger stuff.
Sorrentino not only provides two very distinctively different art styles, but the colouring, textures and tone are vastly different too. In Berlin, the Cold War era city is drenched in dark colours, shadows and Letratone-like layers, while the adventures in space utilise a good deal of light – with vast swathes of blank space – and clean lines in the art. But, at times, the two styles merge into some of the most creative pages, in terms of style and layout, in any comic on the shelves this week and infuses the story with the kind of psychedelics established in the first issue and carried through ever since. Wait till you get a gander at the immense and mind-bending double page spread in the middle of the comic book! It’s like the results of a meeting between Salvador Dali and Stanley Kubrick on a bus with Timothy Leary, man!
Of course, Lemire’s story of Cold War espionage and sci-fi odyssey is interwoven into something akin to magic realism in parts, with moments of sharp contrast both aesthetically and thematically. For example, any one point we are transported to a tropical rainforest region before crashing back down in the ice cold winter climes of Germany. Even the two cliffhangers of this issue’s two plot lines are tonally opposite. One optimistic, one not so.
Lemire and Sorrentino are creating a spectacular mash up of two genres and something very different in the process. Two parallel plots that are guaranteed to come crashing together at some point. But, what will come about in our real world when this happens remains a tantalising mystery.
Primordial #3 is out now from Image Comics