- October 13, 2021
The Saturn Effect: Alpha Review
Forewarning, I purchased this comic after a trip to New York Comic-Con 2021 and was able to get the first three issues signed by the author himself. That’s not to say I have any personal connection to him or The Saturn Effect: Alpha Kickstarter. I only mention this because I may be biased because of all that hype. Come on, meeting creators at Comic-Con is exciting. I even got a picture taken of me and his comics!
Written by: Chris Moses
Art by: Francesco Mazzoli
Colored by: Marco Turambar d’Alessandro
Logo by: Winston Gambro
Lettered by: Reed Hinckley-Barnes
Edited by: Peter Hamboussi, Gerald Von Kahr
Spoilers for The Saturn Effect: Alpha, #1-2. While I did read #3 and will generally review it, it’s not out yet. I attained an early copy during my trip to New York Comic-Con so yeah… I’m kind of cool.
Seriously though, my favorite part of the trip was going and actually seeing creators in the flesh. There were people whose books I literally read on the bus ride, standing before my eyes in the flesh. One thing I didn’t expect, and Comic-Con should be known more for, are the indie comic creators who line the show floor. Comic writers and artists all show up to advertise and show off their stuff. There are few better ways to sell your comic to me than to tell me all about it yourself. That’s how I found myself purchasing and reading three issues of The Saturn Effect: Alpha, a sci-fi epic about… huh, that’s a bit of a problem. I don’t quite understand what this story is about.
The Story of the Saturn Effect: Alpha
A big problem that comes with starting a new world, is trying to introduce it to your readers without info-dumping or leaving the reader confused. I’ve struggled with this in my own work with mixed success, so I’m sympathetic. Usually, I struggle with telling so much that it’s confusing, but The Saturn Effect: Alpha has the opposite problem in the first issue. It doesn’t tell me enough to understand what’s going on.
What’s Happening in Space?
The dialogue and the story haven’t quite explained to me the rules of this world. I couldn’t tell you what groups are in charge, or how much power they have without a large amount of doubt. It’s hard to be positive about the plot when I don’t understand the stakes of the story. The story did introduce me to terms like “mutie” and “pure” early on, and I thought I understand their differences based on character appearances alone, but then to have the story introduce “earthlings” and “Martians” as categories different from them was too much with the way it happened. Why do the “pures” hate “muties” but tolerate the normal-looking human characters? I don’t know. Are “pures” and “muties” earthlings or Martians? I don’t know, at least not for sure.
These first few issues somehow manage to tell me too much, and not enough. It would do well to spend the time to really explain the politics of the world. I find that as the two main characters, who are seemingly neither “mutie” nor “pure,” talk about freeing the colonies, I feel a bit checked out. I have no idea why they would want to change the system unlike Glass and Enhance, a pure/mutie couple who live in the society that keeps them apart.
Going Panel to Panel
This is not to say the story is bad by any means. The strength just isn’t in the plot of the details of the world. The characters on the other hand, each have distinctive voices that make them each stand out. Don’t expect the bad or stereotypical fake accents that one tends to find in sci-fi and fantasy stories. The Saturn Effect: Alpha is more interested in its characters than its world or plot. For now, that’s a strength for the most part.
It’s easy to find myself emotionally invested in the relationship between Bones and Enhance, even though their romance feels out of nowhere due to the pacing of the plot between issues #1 & #2. They have a distinctly warm way of talking to each other that they don’t share with others. It makes it comforting to root for them to escape their oppressive environment.
Even the easy-to-hate characters like Glass have a storyline I want to follow. There’s a strong relationship between Bones and Glass in issue #1 that rubs up against Bones’ relationship with Enhance. I do hope the story focuses on these aspects of the story if not the world and plot.
As of now, there are too many factors that come from a caste system based on race and potentially one’s homeplanet to understand. At the same time, there’s a religious faction with predestination elements in the mix. Then there are the revolutionary siblings who seem caught in the middle of both of those issues. Any one of these things would make for a good story or story arc, but all at once, they become rather confusing. The Saturn Effect: Alpha should focus on fewer things for its first arc for now, but as it stands, it’s a comic with good characters rather than a really good story.
The Art of the Saturn Effect: Alpha
I have no complaints about the art style. It’s visceral in how it captures this beautiful sci-fi world and many of its eccentricities. It’s not this empty sterile shell with shiny buildings. This world has grime and history, whether we need to know it or not.
And the characters are well crafted as well. They have distinct looks to them, save for the twins, Bones, and Glass, understandably. They each have a different energy to them that matches their character, while also assuring that they live in the same world.
Supporting Indie Comics like the Saturn Effect: Alpha
As much as I like superhero comics, sometimes I would rather read a middle-of-the-road indie than another supposed “Batman” classic. Luckily, this isn’t middle-of-the-road. When a new series start off as well as this one, it’s worth talking about and supporting. I talk about indie comics when I review Boom! Studios series, but that’s not as low budget or as independent as a series getting its funding from Kickstarter.
Don’t be afraid to take a chance and spend a little extra on something new. Right now, the comic book industry is full of creators with their jobs because they know someone, or still have one for the same reason. It’s incredibly hard to get into so we need to create new ways for new creators to find success. Go Kickstarter once in a while, and find a comic to support or one that already has the support that you can read. You’ll find really interesting there like I have.