Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pull List Review: Higher Earth #2

The characters in Higher Earth continue to be mysteries. Our main hero is still unnamed, and even Heidi, who clearly has some special purpose or destiny or history or something like that, is pretty vague when it comes to the details. Their personalities are strong, but the how's and why's of who they are remain largely unknown. For the time being, Sam Humphries weighs on the side of world-building, opening the issue with an ad for the titular Higher Earth, and giving use more information about its society within the story than about our protagonists.

This strategy works so far, because the world and its inhabitants are interesting and complex, but I'd like to get some insight into our cast sooner than later. Heidi doesn't seem like she's the kind of person who patiently waits for her questions to be answered, though, so my hope is that in the near future she demands some explanations and we can get the ball rolling. In the meantime, I can revel in her nameless guardian's skilled violence as he fights back against the armored cops of this reality.

There is some great-looking action in this issue, to be sure, like the shot of a terrified head as it's severed or the guy being cut in half by a blade that's almost as long as the page. But where Francesco Biagini and Manuel Bracchi truly excel is in the more bizarre moments. Heidi's nightmare funhouse interpretation of Higher Earth was especially eye-grabbing, and both the robotic and actual dinosaurs looked majestically terrifying.

It's a good-looking book all over, with a style that adds to the insanity and enormity of Heidi's new situation without making it too horrible or grim. And because we keep jumping from one Earth to another, the zany quality of the art creates a tonal consistency while still allowing for drastic visual changes. Like, for instance, at the end, when we move from a futuristic distopia to a prehistoric wilderness without our heroes ever seeming out of place.

Of course, the whole point of the story is that they are, in fact, out of place, and as of now the significance of that is unclear. But I still want to find out, because Higher Earth continues to be an interesting sci-fi concept, and since Heidi and friend obviously have an important role to play within that concept, I'm hooked. A successful second issue in that sense, and one which cements the narrative and artistic voices of the series.

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