Comic Review: Red Shift #1


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The tagline for Ridley Scott’s Alien movie says it best: In space, no one can hear you scream. Space can indeed be a scary place: literal emptiness surrounding you on all sides. Whether you’re in a metal suit or a massive space station, uninhabitable space is always out there, waiting for a breach in your environment to enter and pull you into it. And what if you’re alone in space with your only connection to humanity being lightyears away? Isolation is to dramatic tension what darkness is to mushrooms, so there’s already a great dramatic set-up presented Red Shift #1, which is an excellent teaser for this story. 

Red Shift #1 introduces us to a human race that has colonized Mars even as they stare at their own extinction. Humanity has left the resource-depleted Earth for Mars and colonized it. After living on and building a society on Mars, humanity now faces the same dwindling resources that have them looking for another hospitable planet to inhabit. Every ten years, A Voyager is selected to travel to a location in space and try to find a world where humans can settle. The trip is a long and arduous one and many of these Voyagers have never returned. This is the case for the mother of Hellener Drake, who has just been selected to be humanity’s next voyager. 

This first issue of the comic seems focused on developing the character of Hellener Drake. For Hellener, what began as a normal workday in the mines turns into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that may just end his life. Through this comic, we get a little bit of Hellener’s backstory. He’s definitely a survivor but he’s also demonstrated some pretty ruthless traits. In fact, it might be good that he’s going to be alone in space because the people he travels with aren’t guaranteed to make it. And if he is going to be alone, then that means all that Hellener will have left to entertain himself is his memories (his mother, perhaps?) or something even more sinister. In this first issue of Red Shift, writer H. S. Tak introduces us to this future world and to what kind of man Drake is. There seems to be a lot of questions unanswered, and there doesn’t seem to be any dramatic tension yet, but Tak here seems to be just laying the foundation upon which to build this space-faring tale. 

And this space might not one you’d want to be trapped in, but artist Brent McKee makes sure it matches the spectacle of what the story promises. Mars is a vast, red landscape and the human technology he depicts does remind me of the Alien ship, the Nostromo, a sort of functional industrialism that is mostly devoid of frills or aesthetic flourishes. His biggest veer from this utilitarian design is in the Hall of Voyagers where Hellener can see his mother’s legacy, which may or may not be a precursor to his own. 

As a reader, I am already behind Hellener as a character, and I want to read more about his adventures, whether they’re in the breathless, awe-inspiring vein of the movie Interstellar or the blood-freezing terror of Alien. I’m not sure at this point where the story will go, where Tak with take the narrative, and how McKee will depict it. What I am sure of that Hellener Drake has the potential to be a hero that I and a humanity exiled to Mars can believe in. 

Red Shift #1 is Available on Amazon.

James Gardiner is a librarian who reads scary things, watches scary things, writes scary things, and generally lives with scary things. I also do reviews and critical commentary.

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