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The Disciples s/c

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The Disciples s/c back

Steve Niles & Christopher Mitten


Page 45 Review by Stephen

If you like your science fiction dark and your space shots spectacular, I think you've come to the right, inevitably tampered-with cryogenic chamber. This is positively freezing.

That's not what's gone awry here, but awry things will go all the same.

From the writer of inky, Arctic fang-fest 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and the artist on the gobsmacking gorgeous UMBRAL, comes a voyage on Venture to Ganymede, one of Jupiter's largest 62 moons. There a colony has been established by filthy rich, ultra-religious whack-job, McCauley Richmond, and when I write "colony" I mean cult. Rick, Jules and Dagmar have been hired to retrieve a young woman who, her parents claim, has fallen under the influence said whack-job.

"She's the daughter of a senator and barely eighteen when Richmond... I don't know, what do you call it? Seduced her?"
"Brainwashed her. Don't tell Rick but I hope preacher man gives us trouble. I'd love to shoot him right in his Holy Trinity."

That is an option under their remit, but it's the extraction that's essential. Unfortunately, just before Venture leaves its lunar dock Dagmar has a premonition - which she's not prone to - of what they might find on arrival: hundreds of cadavers floating in space.

They don't, of course, that would be far too obvious.

But that which finds them is horrific.

I promised you spectacular and Mitten delivers on the very second and third pages in a landscape spread whose scale is phenomenal. Jupiter's a big beast. It's diameter is over 11 times that of Earth's and 2.5 times more massive than the rest of the planets in ours little solar system combined. What Mitten's pulled off is, in its truest sense, awesome.

Firstly, but a sixth of Jupiter's bright orange, storm-swirled curvature dominates the top-right of the page but cleverly and crucially three of its moons, glowing green, float in front of it, tiny in proportion. On arrival Mitten will up the ante: what's lost on the skull-and-space-suit front is more than made up for by many more moons whose own size is emphasised by other lunar objects in front of them.

He's barely started. The flight itself comes with some thrilling, electrical, icy effects, and if you're wondering why our three bounty hunters have super-soft skin, it'll will serve to contrast striking with what lurks ahead. It's... a pretty grim first-chapter punchline.

Behind massive and only reluctantly yielding bay doors, the colony's no less impressive, dominated by its central cathedral which boasts elements both of the ancient and futuristic. And if you're praying for some of those lovely light effects from UMBRAL, both Mitten and colour artist Jay Fotos have been only too happy to oblige once things go subterranean.

The script is relatively sparse but free from the false, forced camaraderie that irks me elsewhere. That they enjoy each others' company is perfectly evident, with enough trust built over previous excursions to tease each other playfully. They're together voluntarily too, so there are no bitter rivalries or bitching, and their friendship is deftly established in plenty of time everything to go terminally tits-up.

I do hope you don't choke easily.

THE DISCIPLES falls firmly into the same vein of space-faring science fiction as CALIBAN and OCEAN rather than the more European aesthetic of, say, HABITAT or Moebius' THE WORLD OF EDENA, and is certainly not as involved as the likes of UNIVERSAL WAR ONE, but I don't always have time for that. Often I just want my eye-candy, cheers.