Primordial #5 jumps in time to 2024 and a much older Yelena. Still hoping to be reunited with Laika. It’s a familiar story, but too familiar for this reviewer. Even if dressed up as a science fiction story that spans space and time.
As we hurl towards the climax of this mini-series, we find ourselves in 2024 and a world hardly recognisable. Clearly the USSR has expanded since 1961 and now reaches as far as Sweden, if not further. It’s something of a shock, I dare say, to readers after the dramatic events of last issue, as we meet up with the elderly Yelena, waiting for her dog. Like the Grayfriar’s Bobby, but in reverse. And with spaceships.
It’s a rather slim read and after reading last issue and this one, this series does seem to boil down to a rather simple, and oft used story. The story of separation from a love done – in this case a dog – and the long, long longing for their return. But, does this slim premise hold enough of a story to engage with? Not for me, no. With the political espionage seemingly done away with after events of 1961 we are left with a story told many times before. But this time round set against a science fiction backdrop. There is very little in the way of explanation as to how this alternative world fell to Mother Russia and no mention of Yelena’s life since that fateful day way back when. And while this may well be part of Jeff Lemire’s plan to tell this story economically, it doesn’t really add anything to the experience of reading this book. Or this series after a promising start. It really isn’t what I was expecting, I’m sorry to say.
What we are left with is very little other than the exceptional art. As the animals reach Earth, Andrea Sorrentino has made the artistic choice of delivering the whole issue in one style of art – well, all but for two painted pages – which seems to be a synthesis of the two very different styles he used in the first few issues to differentiate the scenes set on Earth and this in space. And it works exceptionally well. Where Sorrentino’s art was often shrouded in dark and shadow, it isn’t as bold here.
Dave Stewart’s colour art certainly helps sustain the grey, dull life under Soviet rule, helping to bring this alternative world into being while adding a splash of colour to the magnificently realised space ship hurling to Earth with its menagerie of space-faring animals.
Maybe I’m just a grizzled and jaded comic book readers, but the intended effect of a story about cute little animals wanting to get home just doesn’t do it for me. It’s a narrative I’ve never really found heartwarming but rather one that is too over sentimentalised no matter what genre it is filtered through. And so, this tail end of Primordial just isn’t for me.
Primordial #5 is out now from Image Comics