I wasn't quite sure what I should expect from Spaceman #1. All the solicit told me was that it was set in a post-apocalyptic future, and that it involved a celebrity child kidnapping case. It seemed like the story could go in a whole lot of directions, and I didn't know what I was going to get out of the first issue. I mostly bought this because of the book's writer, Brian Azzarello. Azzarello is currently kicking ass over on Wonder Woman, and his last Vertigo series was the must-read 100 Bullets. That was more than enough to get me to give this issue a try. It didn't hurt that it was only a dollar.
Now that I've read Spaceman, I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. Characters speak a strange form of slang that feels like a simpler version of Newspeak. The story's main character, Orson, was genetically modified for a trip to space that apparently never happened, but much of his background is unclear and left open to interpretation. Clearly there's a lot to the character that's yet to be seen. Usually, in the first issue of a miniseries, I come away with an idea of what kind of story I can expect. With Spaceman, I honestly don't have a clue. I could see this being a tale of redemption, a tragedy, action-adventure, or even something darkly comedic. I don't mind that I don't know these things- in face, I kind of like it- but it makes my feelings about this comic hard to define.
What I can tell you about Spaceman is this: a child that's part of a very famous reality television family has been kidnapped. The news is quickly made public, and the investigating police soon learn they'll be expected to question suspects on camera. For the most part, it's more of a cynical prediction of our future than a fantasy based reality world, but Orson doesn't quite fit into that. He's very clearly not an ordinary human, but we haven't seen much that tells us why he was modified this way, and what his abilities might be. The children around him call him "Spaceman", but it seems very likely that he's not the only person on earth like him. I'm really intrigued by the possibilities here, and I'm curious to see where Azzarello takes the character.
The art by Eduardo Risso (who previously worked with Azzarello on 100 Bullets) is some of the best work I've seen from him. The way he's built this world in its various states of disrepair is truly stunning, and I'm really impressed by his architecture skills. His lines are thin and delicate, but still strong, The beautiful flat colors from Trish Mulvihill only elevate each well constructed page. Risso also does a terrific job with the characters in this tale, bringing them to live with varied body language and facial expressions. Even the minor characters give readers a clear sense of their personality. Risso's work goes a long way towards bringing Azzarello's tale to life, and it really makes me appreciate what a great creative team the two of them are.
This is a Vertigo title, so readers should be prepared for the increased sexual content that comes along with that. There's nothing graphic, but there is some nudity, and I wouldn't be surprised if the book took things in a more R-rated direction in issues to come. Occasionally when I'm reading Vertigo stuff, the sex and nudity feels a bit tacked on, but I didn't get that impression here. The scene with Orson and the prostitute gave us a real feel for both his character and the universe the comic is set in, and I think the book is stronger for it overall.
With the $1.00 price tag, there's no good reason not to give Spaceman a go. It's a compelling book from a great creative team that's really different from other comics on the market. Worst case scenario, you don't like it, you're out a buck, and you can pass the book along to someone who might appreciate it more than you did. I may not be sure what to make of Spaceman, but I still know it's a quality comic, and it's worth spending a buck to check it out.