Writer: Justin Giampaoli
Artist: Andrea Mutti, Vladimir Popov
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Humanity faces the truth about itself in Starship Down #1. The four-issue Dark Horse miniseries reunites the Rome West creative team, with Justin Giampaoli on script and Andrea Mutti on art. The sci-fi political thriller follows Jocelyn Young, a cultural anthropologist charged with investigating an ancient alien ship buried under Siberian ice. Walking a diplomatic tightrope, she fends off meddlesome Russians and an imperious Vatican official in an attempt to make sense of a startling extraterrestrial discovery. For what’s at stake here is the very nature of human existence.
Giampaoli does a good job of laying out the core dramatic tension at stake in this comicbook. Can humanity overcome its territorial and political instincts and unite in the quest to understand its origins? Smart and assertive, Young is a strong enough lead to see us through to the answer to that question. And, the other main characters are clearly drawn and compelling enough to make her quest for understanding worth the effort.
The artwork is a decent compliment to the story. Mutti and Popov do a sufficient job with paneling and perspective to keep the story moving. There is some strong shadow work in the last act to add to the suspense. And, the facial expressions are critical to the visual presentation. But, that’s only because Young spends a lot of time showing surprise at the existence of alien life. As for colors, drab browns, greens, and greys remind us that this is a story that begins underground, in the desolate Russian tundra.
On the whole, I think Starship Down #1 is a strong comicbook with clear writing and the potential to entertain. It is particularly suited to fans of high-concept science fiction. I don’t think it’s pull list-worthy, at least not for me. Though, I would definitely watch for the trade paperback when Dark Horse releases it.