Release Date: April 2nd, 2014
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Publisher: Avatar Press
Written By: Garth Ennis
Art By: Facundo Percio
Garth Ennis drops another gem of a horror story on Avatar Press with Caliban. If the movie Aliens had a baby with Event Horizon and then let it watch horror flicks all day every day, that baby would be named Caliban. A space mission headed into uncharted space, riding the waves of unreality thru physics, goes horribly wrong and blood, guts, and more blood ensue all over the panels.
The storyline and idea may be a rehash, retelling, reimagining or whatever of the staple eerie horror out in space but it’s pretty good so far. The crew is a bunch of tightly wound engineers and navigators who pilot and maintain the ship while the crew of miners and geologic experts lay in suspended animation or stasis or whatever cool word is used in this particular space drama. Hypersleep is my favorite. While the standard nutcase is there, we also have the standard witty jerk, the standard scared doe eyed girl, and the standard tough cookie female lead character. It may seem like I’m being critical but I’m really not. I like this genre so much that I often overlook the clichés stuck on repeat ad nauseum. This book is full of them. With that being said tho, the intrigue and creepiness is cranked up to 11 very quick. The wiseass character takes over the controls right when they somehow merge with another ship while in warp. As the characters point out, they aren’t fused, melted, cut, or smashed into the ship. “It’s just — here.” Also, the nutcase finds the carcass of a giant ugly alien curled up in a hole and it promptly turns to dust. Probably full of something he inhales and turns even nuttier. There are people and things and more people fused with the ship as well but they didn’t fare as well as the non-damaged hulls.
The artwork perfectly captures all the characters’ specific roles. It’s as if Ennis intended for these characters to be cookie cutter versions found in every scary space flick. Again, not complaining. These character models fit perfectly in these movies for a reason. The feeling of wonderment and astonishment is clearly seen in every panel, especially the ones with the doe-eyed female character. The enormity of the ship is what really grabs you tho. The characters feel tiny and ridiculously unimportant every time Percio zooms out and gives you a widescreen view of the massive spacecraft. The scale gets even bigger when you see the ship it merges with.
This was a welcome change of pace from the superheroes. Garth Ennis’ homage to Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver is a blatant, in-your-face love letter to the horror space genre that Aliens originated. I felt like a kid again reading this book. It had me in the same bewildered sense of awe and anxious trepidation as I was the first time I watched the classic flick. Pick this book up if you love Aliens and all of its clones.