Sunday, 13 December 2015

Comic Review - Orbital 6. Resistance

Writer: Sylvain Runberg 
6 - ResistanceArtist: Serge Pellé
Published by: Cinebook

'After fleeing Confederate space, Caleb and Mezoke are hiding among a community of exiles disgusted by the corruption and violence infecting the galactic government. Caleb is recovering slowly, just as Angus, the living ship, is doing on a different world. But a powerful, dangerous psychic link seems to exist between them, and all are actively hunted by both the authorities and a terrorist group. When running ceases to be the answer, the only option left is resistance...'

I've followed this space opera series since the very first volume 'Scars'. I was amazed by that first issue, and then even further amazed by the second volume, 'Ruptures'. The setting was further expanded by 'Nomads', then rattled by 'Ravages', then it was torn apart by 'Justice', and now, with 'Resistance'. the entire galaxy seems to be falling apart.

I think the most frustrating thing about this series is the huge gaps between volumes.; of course, not only do we have to wait for the writer to create and the artist to illustrate, lazy single-language persons like myself then have to wait for the translation. Was it worth the wait? Yes. Yes it was. In fact, I think I'll need to learn another language to help me cut down the waiting time for the next instalment.

It's hard to explain what happens in this book for two reasons; one, if you haven't read any of the previous volumes then you'll simply have absolutely no idea what it is I'm talking about. In fact, if you haven't read the first five volumes then please, stop reading this and go and purchase copies of each one right now. Two, if you have read the other volumes in this series then the very last thing I want to do is ruin the surprise for you. You've waited long and hard for this volume and me shouting out about why I was so shocked and amazed by what happens next will only spoil it all.

And this is one of those series where you don't want it spoiled for you, I guarantee it. The unfolding of the characters and the setting - as well as the politics and the intrigue - is one of the things that makes Orbital riveting from beginning to end, and then slaps you around the face at the end of each volume when you realise you have to wait months before you can find out what happens next. Sylvain Runberg's writing is always a joy to experience - he has a great talent at worldbuilding and his star-flung setting, as huge and as expansive as it is, is never too big for the characters that he creates. Each individual has a specific and identifiable character, and they always have a depth and quality to them which means that they're never simply 'the bad guys' or the 'good guys'. While there are characters that may come across as a little 'evil', they're never portrayed in a way that's too pantomine, or simple moustache-twirling villains, the same way that the heroes don't have shining teeth and untouchable hair. The two primary characters, Caleb and Mezoke, are as rich and enjoyable as they were from the first volumes and their characters continue to grow and change as the galaxy about them twists and convulses in what could be the end of the... oops. Said too much. I need to stop getting carried away, but that's what the story does.

And to accompany great writing you need great art, and once again Serge Pellé has not only knocked it out the park, it's gone out of the city and into orbit. His design and feel is so atmospheric you can almost reach out and touch it; the very alien-ness of the stars beyond Earth makes you wonder if Pellé knows something we don't, and even though the designs are so far out there that they can't be seen by Hubble they still feel tangible and that they belong there, within the reality of the setting that Runberg has created. In fact, it was Pellé's artwork that originally drew me to this series. That first cover, of Caleb and Mezoke posing for the camera with the might of an Orbital towering behind them, caught my eye and upon opening the book I was amazed at the quality, the colour and the design. He hasn't compromised with each volume and has stayed consistent all the way through the story, and to imagine anyone else illustrating these adventures is unthinkable.

I'm so high on this series it's difficult to find fault. Yes, I had to go back and re-read some of the dialogue to make sure I had absorbed the facts; there's a lot of exposition in this (and I do not like exposition very much), but it all makes sense and fits together nicely, and brings us back to the events of the opening of volume 1... but that's all I'm going to say about that. A couple of the panels were slightly confusing as I tried to make out what was going on, but in both of these cases it made very little difference to my overall enjoyment of the book. In fact, even mentioning it feels pointless as it didn't change how much I enjoyed experiencing this.

And that's what this book is; an experience. You experience the story through the eyes of the heroes, you experience the worlds through the eyes of the different races and the individuals vying for power, and you experience the galaxy as whole when all these things are bought together. Sylvain Runberg has created a space opera setting of action, intrigue and character, and Serge Pellé has given it life and dimension. It's a fantastic thing to behold and I only wish that more people would experience it. I'm a tabletop gamer and when I think of a new science fiction setting to game in, I always think of Orbital first. A board game, a roleplaying game, even other forms of media... hell, I'd love to see Pellé's images animated, that would be a wonderful thing to behold. I can but dream.

Orbital 6. Resistance doesn't let up from where volume 5 ended and even ups the ante. I cannot imagine any fan of this series being disappointed with this newest instalment, and even though you will be annoyed at having to wait for another few months to see where this new cliffhanger will take you, I guarantee that the wait will be the only thing you will be annoyed about.

Sylvain Runberg and Serge Pellé have done it again - now for the long wait until they do it a seventh time.

Very highly recommended.