The inside cover reads like a propaganda poster. In fact, it is. The print brightly states “Life Sentence? Fight For Your Planet Instead And You’re Out In 15 Years. Talk to Your M.I.D. Recruiter for Details” and lists the message is brought to you by GLOBAL OUTREACH ENTERPRISES. Well, that certainly is a good way to capture your audience’s attention.
Cluster by Ed Brisson and Damian Coucerio introduce a book that highlights the characters in science fiction stories that are definitely not your pretty main characters. They are the ones in the background, running the show, the ones that would appear in your dingy bar that your hero would wander through on their quest. This book thrusts those characters into the spotlight.
In the distant future, as mankind discovers life on other planets, it needs soldiers to defend its colonies and outposts across the stars. In order to increase the number of boots on the ground, criminals are offered the opportunity to serve in the place of incarceration. But as wars wage on and more soldiers are needed, small-time crimes are given long-term punishments. When a group of prisoners serving their time as soldiers become stranded and abandoned on a war-torn planet, they’ll need to work together to survive and uncover the truth behind Earth’s role in deep space.
Science fiction criminals fighting a war in order to help Earth and gain their freedom? Well, that is a doozy of a broad topic. I asked myself when reading this description just how something of this large scope could be properly done in a monthly-issue book. As a writer, you would ideally have to cover the broader scope of the war and it’s effects with Earth, but then you would have to focus on each character, giving background and depth to why in the hell they would choose a war sentence over a prison sentence.
This book does just that, and it’s only on its first issue. The characters introduced: Samara, Halleran, Grace, and the very alien Slarreg, have already shown incredible background. There are emotions, motive to their being signed up for war, and subtle hints of back story already thrust into the light of the reader, especially when it comes to the story of Samara. It will be interesting to see how these character’s stories are fleshed out.
The illustration by Damian Couceiro is vivid and gritty, like a science fiction war would ideally be. The lines are sharp and harsh, leaving nothing to the imagination on just how hard these characters have it in the environment within the comic. The colors by Michael Garland help in making the illustrations all the more perfect for this alien world, where while humans reached the surface first, are still quite the outcasts.
It looks like I have another comic that I have to add to my pull list. It’s an interesting concept for a sci-fi war/crime book that will hopefully continue in the length of the comic’s run. I give Cluster 4 stars out of 5.
Cluster is from Boom! Studios and is available wherever comic books are sold.