by Brian Haberlin, Skip Brittenham and Geirrod VanDyke
What if space travel was reduced to the length of international travel? What if humans could reach Mars in a few days? That is the premise and news that greets readers in the opening pages of this new series from Image Comics. Faster than Light #1 covers a good amount of ground in just a single issue and manages to seed in a number of interesting bits along with building out a plot that seems quite grand. If that were not enough, the book also has a bonus component for print readers, which expands the reading experience much further.
Thanks to Saul Fredricks, human beings are now able to travel faster than light. With such advancement in technology, the next space shuttle is to be outfitted with the technology to enhance the mission. A large portion of the issue is actually spent in a single setting, showcasing a number of conversations between crew members of the Discovery spacecraft. Until the final few pages, there is little movement in this opening chapter. However, Haberlin manages to fill the conversations with world-building pieces. Credit is certainly due as the writer avoids situations that overstate or force in information in order to craft a narrative or reveal aspects of a character. Instead, the conversations offer windows into the histories of the characters and the current status quo. Between a council meeting, and a few other remarks, there are clearly more aspects to this space mission than it would appear. At one point, a strange species is shown through a holographic image, and in conjunction with the first few pages, it would seem that the crew is planning to encounter other life.
Somehow, nothing is explicitly stated in the two-dozen pages of the first chapter. Faster than Light, instead, lets readers settle into the environment of the Discovery and get a feel for the crew. Haberlin infuses a sense of mistrust and unease over the course of the book through interactions amongst crew members. The development of the cast in just the first issue is rather impressive. Unfortunately, the book feels slow due to its overall plot momentum. While the interactions amongst these characters do a good job at coloring their personalities, the book seems to lack urgency for a good portion of the issue.
Haberlin’s illustrations do well to carry the story along, but the panel constructions and placement of the characters within them feel a bit stiff and lacking dynamic design. Often, pages use consecutive horizontal panels, placing the characters in mostly the same places, rarely shifting perspective as a conversation takes place. Gerriod VanDyke’s coloring is a good fit for the story, using a sense of pale lighting and deep blues to accent the surroundings. However, by the time the characters reveal that there is a strangely new planet in the Solar System, the issue has slowed too much.
The book has a number of quality ideas, and Haberlin has a clear idea of his cast and the dynamics that will make exploring space along with them very exciting. Added to it the very cool and impressive content through the AR portion of the print comic, and Faster than Light certainly has a lot to enjoy. If the ending is any indication of events to come, there is sure to be more excitement in the second issue. As for the first chapter, the book has not quite hit its mark.