The Expanse: Origins GN
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writers: James S.A. Corey, Hallie Lambert, Georgia Lee
Artist: Huang Danlan
Colorists: Triona Farrell, Juan Useche
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Review by Michael Farris, Jr.
The Expanse: Origins is a graphic novel that collects origin stories that explore the backgrounds of the Rocinante crew, including Miller. Each story gives us a little more insight into the motivations of the crew and what brought them all together.
The first chapter explores James Holden’s story and takes place in his UNN service days. To be frankly honest, this was probably the weakest installment of The Expanse: Origins as it doesn’t really expand (no pun intended) our understanding of who James Holden is. We find out that he’s an idealist who has problems with authority and is always trying to do what he believes is the right thing in the face of adversity…tell me something I didn’t know. It is helpful in the simple revelation of “Ah…this is why Holden isn’t crazy about the UNN.”
The second chapter brings us to Naomi Nagata, and the storytelling definitely improves from this point on. We still don’t quite get the full picture of Nagata’s past, but we’re certainly closer, and this story definitely had much more relatable elements to it—especially if you’re an introvert trying to move on from the past. The conflict that the characters face in this one is definitely more consequential than what Holden faced in the previous chapter.
Chapter three is about Alex Kamal, and it was one of the more emotionally-rending stories. While we see a happy-go-lucky pilot in the books and show, his journey from the MCRN to the Rocinante was anything but. His struggle is between who he really is and who others expect him to be and what sacrifices he’s willing to make along the way. My only real complaint about this one is that the ending felt very abrupt.
Chapter four explores the past of Amos Burton, and this was probably my favorite installment of the book. You’d think that exploring the most enigmatic and grimmest character of the group would be a dark, gritty tale, but instead, the writers throw you for a loop and put Amos in the middle of a daydreamed game show. The series of questions and challenges asked of Amos reveal more about his dark past…and it’s seriously dark. This origin story, in my mind, definitely makes him one of the more compelling characters of the series.
Finally, chapter five takes us to Ceres to look in on Josephus Miller’s past. He is challenged by his romantic interest to try to see the inherent goodness of the people he interacts with in his job as a cop—even when he’s faced with taking down a sex trafficker. But what consequences are there when he tries to put aside his natural cynicism? While maybe not quite as strong as previous chapters, this was a nice way to wrap up The Expanse: Origins.
The artwork at first made me think I was watching old Scooby-Doo cartoons, where the characters move stiffly and run across a scrolling background that repeats itself. But, after a while, I warmed up to it, especially the more creative they got with it (see: Amos chapter).
Verdict: Buy it.
Especially if you’re a fan of the books, show, or both, The Expanse: Origins is a graphic novel you’ll want to read. People with no exposure to this series might not be interested, but that’s your fault, because the show is great and the books are great, so after you see the light and jump into The Expanse universe, you’ll want to buy this book. It’s a good, brief snapshot of the crew’s lives that have relatable, human aspects that adds to the strength of these characters.