Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hellcyon: A Review

Hellcyon was a comic book limited series written and drawn by Lucas Marangon and published by Dark Horse Comics that never finished.  Originally designed to run four issues, due to scheduling problems, only three were released.  Luckily, Dark Horse collected it into a trade paperback which was released back on April 18th.  I picked it up the other day in my first visit to a comic book store in four months.  I (re)read it that night while riding the T.  Since it contains ideas and themes that are similar to those expressed in Mobile Frame Zero I've decided to do a quick review.

The book starts with a quick one page "voice over" of a letter being read by the protagonist of the book, Nika McKay, as he is roused from cryo-sleep in a military space vessel.  It continues with an introduction to the setting, the colony moon Halcyon 4, and the current political status which is what gives rise to the central conflict of the story.  We are then introduced in short order to a small group of characters who will be the central troupe that the story revolves around.  Then, with the abruptness of an orbital barrage, all hell breaks loose and our story kicks into gear.  The Legion -- from Earth -- and the Colonial Guard -- From Halcyon 4 -- begin to use force on the groups that want a free colony.  This drives Nika and his compatriots into hiding and the beginning of  a guerilla resistance.

The second issue/chapter introduces us to the major players of the antagonist forces.  It also gives us more character time with the protagonists and slightly explains how Jackets -- the Mobile Frames of this setting -- work.

The third issue/chapter gives a few Jacket fights seperated by a montaged time jump forward.

The fourth (unpublished) issue/chapter gives us more character moments as we meet the leaders of the resistance, the decisive Jacket fight, and a final wrap-up.

Overall I found this is an enjoyable book.  The characters are easy to understand, the art was in my sweet spot, and the plot was straightforward.  There are some flaws with it though.  There are characters that are introduced and not really fleshed out.  There are events that happen off camera -- important to the plot -- that we are only told about, never shown.  I feel that an extra issue or two could have given the story room to expand and be told properly.  I also have minor quibbles with the art.  Some of the Jackets look too similar.  The artist probably thought they were distinct in his head but they didn't look that way to me.  There's a reason the protagonists in giant robot anime are different colors.  Other than that, I thought it was a good read.

While most sources of inspiration for MFZ are anime I feel this book has good potential as inspiration.  The two sides in this book could give people an idea what some of the motivations behind the Solar Union and the Free Colonies are like.

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