For the first Panel Mania of March I selected one of my all time favourite sci-fi comics.
It started out as my choice for best comic of 2013. Now the first volume is complete and collected in a trade paperback, and set to be best comic of the millennium.
Ladies and gentlemen, do feel free to go ballistic for... Ballistic!
A genuine spark of innovation is a rare thing indeed, and something that Ballistic, by filmmaker Adam Egypt Mortimer and comics star Darick Robertson, transmits with shocking force. It’s perhaps the first comic of the millennium to leave readers physically buzzing with excitement, a future classic in the making and the Next Big Thing already flying frustratingly under the radar.
Butch is an air conditioner repairman who dreams of something more, something greater, something… more criminal. His best friend happens to be a sentient firearm; Gun is a foul-mouthed drug-addict who has entirely too much fun blowing people’s heads off. Together they climb the ladder of crime in Repo City State, a post-apocalyptic neon-nightmare world built upon reclaimed trash and constructed with DNA-based living technology – a city that is very much alive, and almost certainly worships HR Giger.
And then things start to go really wrong.
The pacing is manic as psychedelic and insanely detailed world-building collide with hyper-violent mayhem. Mortimer is refreshingly light on wordy exposition, but a handy breakdown is provided at the end revealing the mechanics and history behind each character interaction and glorious tech invention.
It’s difficult to believe that it’s Mortimer’s first foray into comics writing, or that publisher Black Mask Studios launched as recently as 2012 and currently feature one of the most exciting slate of titles for 2015.
Robertson, of course, is well known for his prolific sagas, tremendous character work and most of all, for his horrific depictions of violence. Transmetropolitan, his 60 issue cyberpunk series with Warren Ellis, remains an influential science fiction classic, while gross-out anti-superhero fare The Boys ran even longer.
The sheer lunacy of Ballistic though really does let Robertson flex his creative talents, and with a background as vibrant with life as the story itself, the result is like nothing else in the medium right now.
The comic begins with a fist halfway through someone’s face, blood flecks spraying across the page and drowning the gutter in red. It ends with the reader out of breath and desperate for more of this addictive, ballistic, madness.
Earlier this year I was thrilled to be invited to contribute a regular column to Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association. My column, Sequentials, is the first time the journal has covered comics and I'm really excited to be a part of that.
Before my column kicked off proper, the year began with a Best of 2013 issue, so what better way to introduce comics to the Vector readership!
Below then is my look back at the best science fiction comics that 2013 had to offer, with a particular focus on four important comics: Ballistic by Adam Egypt Mortimer and Darick Robertson from Black Mask Studios; The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy from Vertigo; The Private Eye by Brian K Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente from Panel Syndicate; and Raygun Roads by Owen Michael Johnson and Indio from Changeling Studios.
Hit the jump for the full article!