Writer: Michael Moreci Art: Hayden Sherman Publisher: Vault Comics
***SOME ADULT THEMES ARE DISCUSSED IN THIS REVIEW. BEWARE, YE SENSITIVE PARENTS***
WHAT IS IT?
The funnest existential crisis you'll ever have. It's an intergalactic romp that perfectly balances action, humor, and the worry that all of the decisions you make in your life are pre-ordained.
Imagine Preacher meets Archer in space, or maybe Star Wars if it were originally intended for an adult audience.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The Creator (not to be confused with Tyler, The Creator) is presumably named that because he is the creator of the universe. He allegedly speaks to our protagonist, Billy Bane, and only to him. Because of this, Billy was known as a prophet. Unfortunately, these prophecies led to the galaxy’s collapse, and to our protagonist floating alone in space because everyone wants him dead.
Brother Jacob is kind of a new, replacement prophet. He's spreading the Good Word about Leader Devolous Yam in the name of the Creator. But he’s no believer -- he just knows what a good gap in the market looks like. Also, Devolous Yam is the psychopath who ruined the galaxy -- the same guy Billy helped rise to power, so Brother Jacob kind of sucks. Brother Jacob's daughter, Molly Sue, is a whole lot cooler. She joins Billy and Dust's party (not, like "celebration party," but more like "your core group of protagonists" sort of "party). Dust is Billy's his malfunctioning blue sex robot friend. Doesn't everyone have one of those? She seems pure and good and like she'll be the gang's moral compass, mostly because Billy was just looking to score drugs, like, 5 pages earlier, and Dust is (again) a malfunctioning sex robot.
Molly Sue's brother (AKA Brother Jacob's son) is The Worst™. He seems like an entitled, privileged punk, and it turns out, he is a punk. He's part of the anarchist gang, Anarchist Society Syndicate (AKA ASS) and he and his gang rally against the order of a society and a galaxy trying to heal from its trauma. Throughout the book, one thing is clear: in the struggle between order and chaos, the universe is being torn apart. Our happy band of misfits has to survive this greater struggle, and the individuals, armies and other powerful beings on either side, in order to stop the universe from turning into just a bunch of Wasted Space. But fate, if it exists, could have other ideas...
Michael Moreci has written the kind of iconic space adventure that only comes around every 20 or 30 years
The whole book is an existential crisis, with what could be the moral, or at least one take, at the very beginning: there is no meaning inherent in the universe, there is only the meaning we find in ourselves and our own lives
The rest of the comic then asks, “But what if there were meaning in everything?”
Even conversations throughout the story overtly debate different opinions and beliefs on the subject
It has one of the best opening lines in comics
Sets the tone for the narrative and lets the reader know what the story is about
Also reinforces the title
Closing lines to issues are often both hilarious and excellent cliffhangers
Hayden Sherman's line work is jagged and wild, symbolic of the universe on the edge of war and collapse
I love his heavy inks, and how they work with Jason Wordie's colors
Great thought to size and scope, both through literal and abstract means, like a science fiction Sienkiewicz
The panel division throughout felt expertly done, with pacing in mind
Great contrast between action scenes and periods of rest or slower exposition, often with humorous moments of juxtaposition between the two of these
His character design was also very cool and unique, an important part of any good space opera
Jason Wordie's color work is a silent hero in this title
While it may get overshadowed by the spotlight on the hilarious dialogue, the action-packed narrative and Sherman's organic line work, Wasted Space owes so much of its success and tonality to Wordie's work
I loved his color palette: the bright and vibrant pastels against the inky black of space, like Easter at midnight
He also gave a lot of thought to warm colors vs. cool and framing important parts of the image using color vs grayscale (see the below image for an example)
Running gags, like Billy's middle name, offer consistent call-backs to previous issues and reward the readers who notice it
The characters are memorable, feel unique and separate from each other, and you really do start to love them more and more as the story goes on
Billy's a disaster, but he's got the best lines
The Creator almost seems Stormtrooper-esque, and makes me wonder if we'll ever get a reveal of who or what is under his helmet
It's written to be an ongoing, so if you jump on during, say, issue 3 or 6, you can still figure out what's going on, thanks to context clues
Because it's an ongoing series, we get to enjoy the epic scope of this space opera and let the story unfold without worrying about fitting it all into a limited number of issues
Campbell's lettering choices are solid, especially for the Creator
Black, ominous balloons, but with sentence case, instead of caps, the way everyone else speaks
It's like he's calmly and composedly saying the universe needs darkness and destruction, which is more terrifying than if he were shouting it
There's a bonus holiday special issue that may still be FREE on Comixology
It's a clever spin on The Gift of the Magi
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
The name of the comic and marketing for it made me think it was going to be more of a stoners-in-space title, which is why I avoided it for so long
"Get Wasted!" is a great tagline in many ways, but it definitely threw me off
I should note that I'm very sad I waited on this title for as long as I did
Not for kids
Cursing, violence, adult themes and some nudity (though much of the nudity is covered up in hilarious ways)
While the cast feels more entourage-based, all the characters feel like they're supporting cast members for Billy
This isn't really a knock against it so much as I'm not sure if it should be more about the rest of Billy's party, too, or if we're only supposed to have one protagonist
We've gotten some depth for Dust, but I hope we get more
Interested to see where Molly Sue's character arc takes her, since we haven't seen a ton from her, either
Nitpicky: I don’t love the “To be continued” lettering at the end of each issue
Seems like it doesn’t fit with the rest of the comic, and it’s an opportunity to otherwise do the sign-off stylishly, in a way that really fits with the tone of the book
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This is the incredible, addictive space opera you’ve been waiting for. It hits all the right notes, with enough new that it feels like untrod territory but enough trappings of the genre to feel familiar, like a warm, comfy blanket.
It's fun and hilarious and action-packed, while also having great depth and an undercurrent of existential crisis and helplessness.
One of the Top 5 comics of 2018.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Wasted Space #6 by Michael Moreci & Hayden Sherman
Void Trip by Ryan O'Sullivan & Plaid Klaus
Preacher, Vol. 1 by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon
If you like the art:
The Few by Sean Lewis & Hayden Sherman
Sentient by Jeff Lemire & Gabriel Hernández Walta
New Mutants: Demon Bear by Chris Claremont & Bill Sienkiewicz
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Michael Moreci – Writer
Inspired by space operas like Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, and often writes epic sci-fi stories
Many of his other works are currently in production for film or TV
Multitalented: Also recently published his second novel, The Throwaway
Hayden Sherman – Illustrator
Influenced by sci-fi films, Batman, teachers he had and great comics he's read
Recently wrote an Opinion article for the New York Times about using war games to train engineers
Jason Wordie – Colorist
Outlander: Lives in Canada
Opinion: I haven't seen much of his work in the past, but absolutely loved his colors in Turncoat and God Country, and feel like they show off a lot of his skill and range -- these are 2 titles you should definitely check out
Jim Campbell – Letterer
Outlander: Hails from the United Kingdom
Multitalented: Also enjoys the art side of the creative world
Prolific: Has done lettering for a large number of hit titles
Adrian F. Wassel – Editor
Name Recognition: Is the CCO & Editor In Chief of Vault Comics, and plays the role of editor on most, if not all, of Vault's titles
Also helps run Vault with his brother and father
Has personally helped other comics creators, like Eric Palicki, in their endeavors
HOW DO I BUY IT?
The first volume of WASTED SPACE comes out Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.
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