The recently published title Port of Earth from Image Comics brings readers back to their science fiction roots with a terrifying near future where human naivety and the perpetual dream of aliens coming in peace to our tiny planet may not turn out like we thought. Mix in real world concerns of cultural differences and dangerous hidden agendas, and the future couldn’t be any more surreal for this fun new series.
The universe just got a lot bigger. Aliens have landed, and humanity is suddenly offered the opportunity to leap ages ahead in technology, but there’s a catch. They not only come in peace, they come with a provocative business proposition. The ruling “Consortium” of thousands of planets would like Earth to be a vital port along their heavily traveled galactic route. Taking into account that their ships are powered by water, it turns out the planet is an ideal place to lay anchor. But opening our world to extra-terrestrial creatures far more advanced than ourselves also exposes our vulnerabilities. Thus, the need and inevitable creation of ESA, the Earth Security Agency which oversees the port and is humanity’s only defense against the unknown.
This first issue hits the ground running. Following the discovery of a mutilated body a short distance from the port, the ESA is called in to track down a Qotil, a monstrous illegal alien who could add to the growing negative public opinion about the deal. The hunt is just beginning as the closing pages leave readers in suspense. If this first taste is any indication, the following issues should be highly anticipated.
Writer Zack Kaplan (Eclipse) has taken what could have been a weak premise that has already been played out numerous times, a central port showcasing a wide range of alien species, and created a darker world where the unknown is more frightening than the hideous creatures arriving in port. The image of Deep Space Nine came to mind when I first picked this issue up. Elements of mystery and drama are also akin to the storyline of Alien Nation, but it doesn’t take long to realize that Port of Earth has so much more to offer.
The Artwork of Andrea Mutti (Rebels, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic) is crisp with distinct spaceship architecture providing a realistic setting and the well developed facial imagery brings life to the large cast of characters. Most of the images are shaded with minimal color, giving the impression of classic black and white comics, but unlike the muted technique used by Charlie Adlard in Image Comics’ other popular series The Walking Dead (where many of the characters are difficult to tell apart), the cast in this series is much more distinguishable. In a complex story like this, the attention to detail makes the plotline easier to follow, especially with the added subtle tone provided by colorist Vladimir Popov’s (Hellraiser, Highlander) contrasting shading in select frames. Combined with the solid lettering of Troy Peteri (Witchblade, The Darkness), this is a strong primer to a shadowy future series.
Leaning on the classic literary fears and apprehensions of humanity following the discovery of an alien existence, Port of Earth is set to bring back the core elements of science fiction through a fun new series.