Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso
100 Bullets wasn’t one of the first comics I read, but I still consider it the gateway. Before then, most of what I read was either superheroes or licensed. Being thrown into that series was something different altogether, and even with its flaws, it left me with the highest regard for the creative team of Azzarello and Risso. Their return to Vertigo with Spaceman got me very excited, and it sadly does not live up to my expectations.
Orson was one of the Spacemen, a group of brothers who were genetically created specifically to go to Mars. Now he’s a collector of junk on Earth, in a future that’s gone to hell. When the adopted daughter of a Brangelina-style reality show couple gets kidnapped, he ends up finding her and gets mixed up in a huge plot as everybody tries to get her.
Which leads to one of the main flaws: there’s simply too much going on in this book. Whereas 100 Bullets had the problem of a story that didn’t quite last for 100 issues, Spaceman has a story that needed a few more issues. There are a lot of characters and a lot of plotlines in a mere 9 issues. There’s Orson’s journey with the girl, Tara, then his brother shows up also looking for her, and there’s flashbacks to their time on Mars, and there’s also two detectives, and on and on. It’s too many characters, and none are developed enough. I barely know anybody by the end, and some of the plot points were just lost on me.
Although that also comes from the dialogue itself. There was a lot done with colloquial language in 100 Bullets, and it worked for the most part in identifying the characters and their backgrounds. Spaceman creates its own future dialogue, which ends up as a mix of text speak and its own creations. Some of the ideas in it are neat, like thinking and hearing being replaced with braining and earing. Some of it just ends up making it unreadable. It got to a point where I had a sigh of relief any time a character appeared that was speaking in normal English, even if it was only for a sentence. After you’ve read pages of stuff like “Soree bout the no before, but the geepee satee in the sky”, anything comprehendible is nice.
My big praise for the book is how well the world is built. It’s the best kind of satirical dystopian future world. Everyone is connected to the net, and reality shows have basically become a 24/7 thing. The constant focus on what will make good programming, whether it’s accurate or not, is shown a lot. At one point, a police raid is planned out for what will get the best camera angles. And it’s all complemented by Risso’s art, building the city into a terrible flooded wasteland. The many characters are also instantly recognizable. His art also comprises the only extra, a few sketches and some pencils. There are no notes or anything, which seems to be stretching the definition of “deluxe edition”.
Spaceman is a disappointment. A strong concept lost thanks to its last of focus and a terrible dialogue choice. A few simple decisions end up being the difference between gold and pain.