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Review: The Seeds

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"They make you the thing, you might as well be the thing." A dying Earth is the battleground for a war between nature and science. Outside the city wall is 'the Zone' which has been claimed by Neo-Luddites, an area in which no technology is allowed and people try to live a traditional, rustic existence. They believe that over-reliance on our gadgets has led to ruin. In the city gas masks are a common accessory due to the toxic air. Society is fractured, sickness and poverty all around. Then came the aliens. Not to invade, not to rescue humanity but to collect samples: seeds and embryos to preserve a living record of the doomed planet's lifeforms. Disguised behind gas masks they pass unnoticed in the dark, desolate streets. Astra works for The Scoop, a tabloid that specialises in sensationalist stories. She learns about Lola, a disabled woman who has a secret alien lover.... and who is pregnant. The Seeds  by writer Ann Nocenti and artist David Aja is a somewhat su

Review: Flux

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May 2031: Pollution is choking the Earth and making people sick. In England Iain Ortha is diagnosed with a terminal, incurable illness. His only option is cryogenic suspension. Perhaps one day, decades from now, there will be a treatment and he can be revived... February 2528: Mai Taren is the young daughter of a freighter captain, transporting goods throughout the solar system. Earth was evacuated centuries ago due to its toxic atmosphere and people now live in orbital habitats and a few scattered colonies further out. Mai and her father are delivering cargo to the Tel, a genetically and culturally distinct race who inhabit an asteroid colony in the outer system. Both Iain and Mai are about to have their worlds turned upside-down by events beyond their control... Flux by writer/artist Andy J Clarke is a tense thriller set in a future where humanity is scattered throughout the vast reaches of the solar system. In this dark, lonely expanse danger is never very far away, as Mai discover

Retrospective: 2001 Nights (1984)

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"Toward what end does man venture forth into an eternal night of death?" 2001 Nights by writer/artist Yukinobu Hoshino is a hard science fiction manga anthology series that explores the issues surrounding humankind's ventures into space. Hard sci-fi - fiction in which the science is real-world and non-speculative - is rarely presented in a comics/manga format; most readers want bug-eyed aliens teleporting from their faster-than-light starships. The hard side has its own, authentic appeal, however, and there is plenty of scope for this to be produced in an artistically pleasing fashion for the reader. The vistas of space, the landscapes of the moons and planets of our solar system and the designs of our spacecraft and orbital stations provide ample scope for fantastic arenas in which arresting narratives can play out. The limitations placed on the story by the realistic sciences involved, rather than hampering it, provide greater depth, forcing the authors to use their im

Review: Orbiter

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"I don't think you're thinking weird enough." Ten years ago the space shuttle Venture vanished from Earth orbit, along with its crew of seven astronauts. No trace off them was ever found. As a result, the space programme was set back; only unmanned probes were sent into space. The Kennedy Space Centre is now an empty shell surrounded by a shanty town... Now the Venture is back. Falling out of the sky, wrapped in the flames of re-entry, it lands near the KSC. There is only one crewmember aboard and he is catatonic. And the shuttle, although it looks normal at first glance, has been...   changed... Orbiter by writer Warren Ellis and artist Colleen Doran is an homage to astronauts, in particular the seven who lost their lives when the Columbia burned up on re-entry in 2003. Their sacrifice is an inspiration to future generations who will follow "Because it is too important a thing to allow it to die in the sky." The US Space Agency brings in a team of speci

Review: The Body

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Econo Motel, Middle of Nowhere, Arkansas, 12:51 am. Mac's phone goes off. He and Becksly get a call. Time to go to work... The job? A body to be disposed of. It's in the trunk of the car. Just a couple of complications: It's not human. Also, it's not dead yet. No problem for bald musclehead Mac and his young partner. Just find a place off the road and start digging... but then a guy in a pick-up truck arrives. A guy with bright green eyes... The Body by writer Billy Diamond Jr and artist Jay Red is a short, punchy one-off sci-fi thriller, 28 colour pages of pulp-noir (think Quentin Tarantio having a stab at X- Files ). It seems that we are not alone in the universe, and our cosmic neighbours are a little on the ugly side.. In more ways than one. There is not much in the way of backstory here, it's straight into the action with guns blazing. Red's style is free, loose and atmospheric, as a floating sense of dread gives way to sheer nightmare.  Have Mac and Beck

Review: Dominion - Fall of the House of Saul

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Above the planet Gibeah, capital world of the Dominion, powerful battle cruisers patrol the skies. On the surface stands Castle Gibeah, home of the Dominion ruler King Saul. It is night time and the king is plagued by bad dreams: memories of the moment he fell from grace... Dominion - Fall of the House of Saul by writer and artist Dr Barron Bell is a space opera inspired by the Biblical story recounted in the First Book of Samuel. It's Old Testament meets Star Wars with a cast of anthropomorphic animal characters: Saul and his family are humanoid lions, the soldiers are cheetahs, panthers and wolves, the prophet Samuel is a very crotchety old crow and the enemy Philistines are sinister, warty toads. A year before, Saul had just defeated the Amalekites and was celebrating his victory. Samuel was none to happy, however, because the King had not obeyed the commands of the Almighty to not only visit total genocide upon the Amalekites, but to also destroy every last vestige of them. S

Review: Not All Robots

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Florida, 2056: The Earth is an uninhabitable wasteland thanks to the humanity’s disastrously poor judgement. Survivors live in pressurised dome cities, internal climate controlled by robots. Actually, everything is controlled by robots. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and increased automation, all services once performed by humans are now handled – much more efficiently – by robots. Government, judiciary, police: all automated. Where does this leave humans? As little more than pets. Some time ago it was decided – by a committee of computers – that humans required supervision, and so each household was provided with a live-in automaton to take care of them. These robots go out to work and are the sole earners; the human families – liberated from the drudgery of having any kind of occupation – spend their days in perpetual leisure. Sounds like paradise? Not exactly. Many people are unhappy with having machines in control of their lives, left with no meaningful activities

Retrospective: Six From Sirius (1984)

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Somewhere in strange light... ... a mind conceives. The Sirius Six is a large saucer ship from the Sirius Swarm, the largest human interplanetary federation in the galaxy. Its crew of six "freelance troubleshooters" are captain Jakota Lone, weapons specialist Starn, computer wizard Zematin (and her "solenoid soul"), explosives expert (and loquacious poet) Skreed, psychologist, anthropologist and diplomat LaMasque and grease monkey Grod (a green-skinned Rakosian). They receive a mission from Sirius Hub; to rescue an ambassador from an impenetrable space prison manned by deadly robot guards ('fax-men'). All in a day's work for this resourceful bunch...  Six From Sirius,   by writer Doug Moench and artist Paul Gulacy is a four-part series by a duo who worked together on Marvel's   Master of King Fu   in the Seventies. Here we have the same adventure saga feel, with a resounding  Space 1999/Blakes Seven   visual vibe. Like those iconic sci-fi TV shows, t

Review: Beta

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"Is he the light?" "That I'm not sure of, but... he may be the darkness we need!" Jones is a successful business owner; very rich, very comfortable and very corrupt. In his large, opulent office he falls asleep at his desk after drinking a glass of water. He is rudely awoken by a tall, sombre man in a military uniform, wearing a cape and brandishing a flaming sword. The intruder grabs Jones by the throat and lifts him off the floor with superhuman strength. He tells Jones to confess all of his crimes to the police and to the media...or face judgement. The office bursts into flames. Then, in the blink of an eye, the stranger - and the flames - vanish.... as if they never existed. Hmmm.... Something in the water, maybe? Jones is arrested. Ben - who bears a striking resemblance to the flaming sword wielder - witnesses this with satisfaction. A virtual reality chat with his friend Zoe, who is studying criminal psychology, offers insights into why a man like Jones wo

Review: Beyond The Breach

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Vanessa is driving into the great Californian outdoors, leaving her old life behind. That old life ended when her mother died of cancer, Vanessa at her bedside while her boyfriend cheated on her... with her sister... Cutting all ties, she speeds down the road.  And blacks out. Waking up in the wreckage of her car, a little battered but not seriously injured, she crawls free and tries to get her bearings. Her car hit a tree and turned over. As she clambers to her feet and looks around, she sees ... madness. Other cars have either crashed or stalled in the road. The people from the cars are being attacked by large, flying, carnivorous, alien creatures. Short furry humanoids stab at them ineffectually with strange metal spears.  In one car a child is screaming. His father is being pulled out of the driver side window by one of the flying things. Another one has already carried his mother away... Beyond the Breach by writer Ed Brisson and artist Damian Couceiro is a reality-smashing bad

Review: Phantom on the Scan

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"It's going to happen again. Tonight. Another is going to die." Twenty years ago a comet fell to Earth. Several people connected to the event have developed various psychic abilities. Recently, for some unknown reason, those people have started dying one by one. Matt knows this because Dorian told him, Dorian being the little dead boy that only Matt can see or hear; a personification of Matt’s powers. With Dorian’s help, Matt discovers that his therapist knows more about what is going on than he has revealed. Despite what he has said during their sessions, he knows that Matt’s unique perceptions are more than just delusions. He also knows the names of other gifted individuals. Dorian finds four of these people and brings them to meet Matt at a diner. The new arrivals are indeed psychic like him but are wary of Matt and his insistence that they are in danger… until one of them has a seizure that results in his head exploding. As if that were not horrific enough, a small al

Review: Frontier Forever - Regenesis

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After a long period of machine rule, Earth has become a reservation for the way life had once been. The embargo protecting humanity's homeworld from the insidious technology that affords the rest of civilisation life amongst the stars has been corrupted and the Athena-class Marshal is sent to investigate. Frontier Forever - Regenesis  by writer Ben Krieger and artist Gianmaria Orlandi is a cyberpunk Western set on an Earth transformed beyond recognition. Technology is strictly limited. A few megacities remain, sealed under domes, but most people live in towns or settlements resembling 19th century American colonies. One such is Mechanicsburg, ruled over by smuggler kingpin Mister Morton, who is illegally creating weapons using migrant labourers with computer-brain interface tech.  To counter this affront to the natural order, Earth's steward the Matron (an elderly nun in a luxurious orbiting spacecraft) has initiated the production of the Athena-class Marshal, a genetically eng

Review: Speed of Light #1

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"For thousands of years we have scratched and clawed our way across every inch of space. Throughout every corner of the galaxy. We went opening doors we shouldn't have. Pushing the limits of our own understanding of our place in the universe... We were never meant to come here and now we will never leave." Speed of Light from Evoluzione Publishing, brought to you by producer by Marcel Dupree, is a bi-monthly science fiction anthology comic magazine (72 x black and white pages: 9 x 8-page stories; some serialised, some standalone. Issue one hits the ground running with a very satisfying collection of stories, some light and whimsical, most edgy and a little disturbing. The reader will be keen to know what happens next in these extraordinary tales. Here we have a nightmarish dystopia, a moon with a dazzling mystery, a battle between robots and wizards, a world torn apart by shimmering spacetime rifts, an investigator tracking an insidious space parasite, droids on the run,

Review: Chariot

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"Don't think. React." It's the Eighties. Gillian is a glamorous young mercenary and she has just stolen a car. Not just any old vehicle, either, this is a high-tech, state-of-the-art supercar: very fast, virtually indestructible and with a built-in computer that can interface with the mind of the driver... As she races along a high pass next to a lake she is pursued by thugs with guns. Bullets bounce off this fortress-on-wheels and, with a sharp manoeuvre, the goons crash into it and burst into flame. The driver smiles... until she crosses a bridge and sees a helicopter gunship bearing down on her. A missile destroys the bridge and the supercar falls into the lake, undamaged but with a drowning occupant. Gillian struggles to escape but in vain. There is a flash of light... and then darkness for a long time. It's the present day. Jim is a hulking ex-con working in a scrapyard. His young son has chronic kidney failure and he and his ex-wife have little in the way o

Review: Armor

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Being a teenager is fraught with challenges. Being sixteen and moving home with your dad and kid sister to a distant town and starting a new school is bound to throw many more of those challenges your way: being the awkward new kid, making new friends, dealing with bullies, having to look out for said kid sister, having to follow Dad's dumb rules, having to hide the piece of alien technology you found in a crashed UFO... Okay, that last one probably wasn't quite so typical, but for Jason King his first week in a new school is about to become far from ordinary. Armor by writer Marcel Dupree and artists Joel Cotejar and Danielle Cosentino is an action adventure meets teen drama, two worlds colliding with explosive results. Far out in the void of space, a war between two races has raged for many years. Scientist Kizan Je'diah of Weaporopara has created a new weapon that could shift the balance of power and bring an end to the war. Lord Novaden of the enemy side naturally want