Writer: Michael Moreci Art: Hayden Sherman Publisher: Vault Comics
WHAT IS IT?
Wasted Space is a sci-fi space adventure that runs on moral and existential uncertainty.
Equal parts heavy and humorous, it's like Preacher meets Archer in space, or Star Wars meets the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy if it skewed more toward an adult audience.
These are the first issues of the title's third arc.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Billy and the gang need to find Earth so they can kill the Creator. It’d be a suicide mission just to get there. Or, just to where they think Earth might be.
Here's the thing, though: Billy’s just doing all this for personal reasons anyway. It's not like Dust or Molly really have it out for the Creator. They've come along for the ride out of some weird idea of friendship or two support Billy or for whatever reason, but...well, what else can Billy’s friends do? Leave? Go home? After all this?
As always, Billy takes the steps no one else will. Or abuses their friendship. Your call. But what if Dust and Molly (and even Rex) had a good option outside of staying with Billy or just going home? Could they take it?
Should they take it?
The Vault keystone title is back. And back in form, it seems. There’s a jauntiness to its dialogue and the color’s returned to its cheeks, with Jason Wordie’s full palette at the helm.
I said at the end of the last arc that I missed some of the old gags. And while we don't get anyone giving Billy a made-up middle name, we do see a gag brought back, and it helps bring some levity to an otherwise heavier scene.
We also get Molly's version of life, the universe, and everything. I've been wanting more Molly from the start, and the team really delivers on it in these two issues. And it's done in a way that makes sense, Molly finally seizing that agency and making decisions for herself.
The events at the beginning of issue #11 show that a lot has happened since we last left our humble heroes, and a lot happens after we come back to them, too. I love the heft of Jim Campbell’s THREE MONTHS LATER delivery. It's like everything's degrading fast, nothing's healing or getting better, and Billy's avoiding having any serious and necessary discussions with his crew.
I like that we can get a good feel for characters based on how effed they thing the galaxy is.
Billy’s word balloon tail wrapping around the end of the hall as he evades a difficult conversation is a simple effect with great payoff. Especially because without it, we might not know that was a hall Billy ran down, using only the art as clues in a smaller panel.
For thirsty readers out there, Dust is empirically sexier than ever with the addition of facial hair. For those of you into Billy, though, you see plenty of him, too. The two's interaction with each other as they lean on the panels is some fantastic work on Hayden Sherman's part. We get more of this character interaction with the art on the amazing wraparound cover pictured above.
It's not just fun little effects that make Hayden Sherman's art impress so much this arc. In one place, he draws the details in a reflection on one of his splash pages, reminding us that he can do more than his intentionally chaotic style. And it’s impressive. Another delivery of a multi-paneled scene astonishes with its delivery. Jason Wordie's colors should always go with Sherman’s line art. They work together like peanut butter and bananas. And in this specific scene, Wordie’s colors help us understand the different possibilities for Molly’s life, and Jim Campbell’s balloon placement is the map we need to navigate it. The team just works so well together!
The Molly Multiverse is unsettling, with many terrifying variations of what Molly could be. But also, in all of them, Molly is only defined the way she has been defined in this comic so far — simply as a character to help Billy. And I think that gives her the strength to become more than that.
Overall, I just like the thought Sherman gives to page layouts. Like how he uses little yellow bars and untraditional positions (like on the page below), and how he brings that yellow back later for emphasis. Splitting larger panels up into smaller ones to show the passage of time.
Wordie’s colors get even more psychedelic in these issues, which is fun! I just wanna know how Wordie decided to color the last page of issue 12. Did a flatter assist him or pick out some of those shapes to color differently?
The characters are still a blast for me. Our new characters are fun and feel based in traditional comics tropes. I love that it looks like one of these new characters brings representation of people with Vitiligo to the story. How Billy cuts through the heroic introduction to our new characters is perfectly executed in a way that’s characteristic of him and brings some of that patented Wasted Space voice to the story. Dust’s interaction with one of these new characters is unexpected and adorable. Seeing Billy and Molly fighting makes a lot of sense with their shared history and how their personal histories and beliefs color how they believe people are either inherently good or evil (or, maybe they don't – it's not like Molly's had a super great life). Fury looks more fearsome than ever, but seeing her have one really human moment, almost comically so, and Sherman cutting the panel only to show her more human side works as a good and believable representation of her and makes her feel real and likable.
The title's exploration of trauma is, I think, what makes Wasted Space such a phenomenal read. Billy’s trauma is why he is the way he is, but now, his friends are the ones who are traumatized by him. It’s both funny and sad when Dust, Molly and Rex are surprised their opinion on important matters is asked and considered. And that funny/sad tone is what makes Wasted Space work. Not a light-hearted jaunt. Not a soapbox harangue. Just a solid, well-told, hyper-enjoyable and meaningful story.
The "emotional honesty" line toward the end of issue #12 had me belly-laughing.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
I might see too much of myself in Billy, and when Molly gives him what-for, it feels like she's speaking directly to me. #ISeeMyselfInThisPictureAndIDontLikeIt
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Wasted Space is unlike any space opera on shelves. It mixes humor and heaviness effortlessly, making for a science fiction adventure that feels made for adults interested in philosophy, existence and how trauma affects us directly and indirectly.
And though a lot of that subject matter can be heavy, it's delivered in such a humorous, aesthetically pleasing way, you can't help but beg for more.
I can't give enough praise to Wasted Space. I've said it since I read Volume 1: it's the best space opera on shelves. It's a hell of a ride, and it'll leave you breathless.
Why are you wasting time reading this? Go read WASTED SPACE.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Wasted Space, Vol. 1 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 runs Vault with his brother and father
Has personally helped other comics creators, like Eric Palicki, in their endeavors
Tim Daniel – Designer
Multitalented: Also was the writer on Fissure
Inspired by others in the business: Sonia Harris, Sean Phillips, and Fonographics
Dream Team: Co-wrote Curse and Burning Fields with Michael Moreci
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