Writer: Tom Woodman
Artist: Rupert Smissen
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Cast Iron Books
WHAT IS IT?
A science-fiction time travel adventure that’s ultimately about never giving up hope.
FUTURE reminded me of Doctor Who with its underlying theme of saving the entire world to save one person.
Issue #1 was previously reviewed by Matt Ligeti when it was self-published through Unbound Publishing.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Former Astronaut Murray Mielniczuk is dying, alongside the Earth. Murray's mysterious illness leaves her with a month to live on a planet ravaged by the long-term effects of climate change. Murray’s wife, Kay, is an engineer who is approached by an extra-governmental, covert agency about a secret project to send her and Murray into space to repair a broken satellite. In exchange, Murray will be afforded every treatment option to try and cure her.
Kay reveals to Murray the truth, that the real plan is to send Murray and Kay into the future to find out how to save the Earth with the hope that the future will also have a cure for Murray.
The future that Murray and Kay find is not what they expected. But is there still a way to save Murray and the Earth they left behind?
Woodman has crafted an excellent character study of Murray and Kay. Murray knows she is close to the end of her life and has reached a place of either acceptance or despair while Kay is endlessly optimistic and feels Murray has given up on herself. FUTURE works so well because Woodman makes you care about Murray and Kay and their relationship.
Smissen’s artwork is highly realistic and no other style would have worked quite as well. This style grounds the artwork, but it still allows for some spectacular visuals. Murray and Kay themselves are so expressive that even in the panels consisting mainly of dialogue, it doesn’t feel static.
Many panels are dialogue-heavy, especially the exposition in the scenes when the process of time travel is explained. Bidikar deserves credit in making sure the panels never get too crowded and not letting the pace of the comic get bogged-down. The panel-wide SFX employed when the pod/box time travels works particularly well to convey the scope of the sound being presented.
The concept of traveling to the future to save the present isn’t overly familiar and the novelty of it and how it is presented is intriguing.
Despite the weighty subject matter, there’s humor in FUTURE, in particular regarding Kay and her responses to the problems she encounters. Murray has a darker, dryer wit though, which is evident as well, and these moments help to break the tension of the scenes.
We learn about Murray through flashbacks that she experiences as hallucinations due to her illness, which are presented in a way so that the reader, along with Murray, questions what is real. This creates a more immersive experience for the reader in trying to understand who Murray is and the current state of her mental health in dealing with her terminal diagnosis.
Inventive panel layouts are used throughout, which makes a comic with this much dialogue and exposition visually interesting. In particular is a scene in Chapter 1 in which Murray’s helmet cracks and the pieces of glass are used to show scenes from her past.
Repetitive or unimportant dialogue is physically obscured and it helps to keep the pace in an already dialogue-heavy comic.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
If you’re someone that gets hung up on the hard science of science-fiction, you may feel unsatisfied by the technical mechanics of time travel here. It read as though Woodman put in a great deal of research to come up with the theory and jargon used, though.
When Murray is left on her own in the story, there are times she is hallucinating but also times when she appears to be time traveling due to the device malfunctioning, further adding to Murray's confusion about what is real. This detracted from the hallucination scenes, though, and some scenes became muddled and confusing rather than immersive.
I'm not sure if it's Woodman or the character of Kay, but she's talkative, and although it isn’t a negative as I feel Woodman uses the dialogue well to anchor Kay as the emotional core of the story, I don’t know that all of it is necessary.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
FUTURE is a beautiful story about what it means to love someone and never give up on them.
Any fan of time travel stories or dystopian adventures will find something to enjoy in the realistic, grounded relationship of the main characters. There’s just enough mention of things like “quantum entanglement” and “overcharge the photon” to satisfy science fiction fans; but, I think all great science fiction has something to tell us about ourselves, about who we are or who we want to be when the end comes or in the face of insurmountable odds.
This is a story of hope.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang.
We Have To Go Back by Jordan Alsaqa & Sally Cantirino.
Arcadia by Alex Paknadel & Eric Scott Pfeiffer.
If you like the art:
The Fuse, Vol. 1 by Antony Johnston & Justin Greenwood.
Lazarus, Vol. 1 by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark.
The Resurrected by Christian Carnouche & Crizam Zamora.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Tom Woodman (@TomMayoWoodman) –Writer
New Face: Perhaps surprisingly, this is Woodman's first comic.
Multitalented: He works as a fiction editor for his day job and is an improv comedian.
According to Matt's previous review of Issue #1, he is possibly the most charming person on Twitter.
Rupert Smissen (@rupertsmissen) – Illustrator, Colorist
New Face: This is Smissen's first comic as well.
Multitalented: He has also done award-winning work for brands and publications.
Outlander: Lives and works in London.
Aditya Bidikar (@adityab) – Letterer
Multitalented: Co-hosts a comics podcast with fellow letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, called Letters & Lines.
Prolific: Bidikar has many credits not only as a letterer, but also as a comic writer and prose writer. All his credits are available to view on his website.
He writes a wonderfully informative newsletter called "Strange Animals.".
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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FUTURE was published by Cast Iron Books. Tom Woodman and Rupert Smissen are Proprietors of this work. All characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright of the above or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.