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Shrapnel: Aristeia Rising Is A Hit

Review by Jonathan at

Shrapnel paints a familiar picture of a racially divided galaxy that has been colonized by humanity and brought under the authoritarian rule of the Alliance. There is a tension between genetically mastered “splicers” and naturally born “helots” which have socially been divided into two castes with the helots at the bottom. Venus, the one planet still free of Alliance control, is a haven for members of both genetic classes of humanity. The problem is while the Venusians’ president has striven for freedom of choice and equality, the Alliance shows up to take forcible control over Venus and bring it under their banner. What that means for helots is essential slavery. Things on Venus weren’t great, and far from equal, but the Alliance is much worse. And there’s one person who can help, Sam, an ex-military specialist who is on the run. Problem is, she’s plagued by guilt and survivor’s remorse.

Mark Long and Nick Sagan are the creators of the comic with writing duties being carried by M. Zachary Sherman. And I have to mention the writing that Sherman offers for Shrapnel is really top notch. Sure, there is a lot of dialogue, especially in issue #1, but it’s really good dialogue, something that’s not the most common in comics, so therefore is very much appreciated. The story, while familiar themes from much of science fiction, offers a unique flavor in their IP and really captures the essence of class conflicts like you might see in India today or the civil rights movement of the 20th century in America.

Bagus Hutomo is the artist, delving into that somewhat blurry, loose art style that has taken over a lot of comics. No sharp Claremont or Lee lines here, like in the ‘90s or early 2000s. And that’s not a complaint, but recognition of the style that’s been developing in the industry and while at times things aren’t that clear in a panel, you get the feel of what’s going on. At times we can’t get lost in the details and have to look at the entirety of the book and genre to see what the artists are trying to relay.

The gritty color of Shrapnel is provided by Leos “Okita” Ng, who also worked on City of Dust. Again, this style of digital coloring that has essentially taken over the old gel style of coloring from days gone by, lends it self nicely to complementing Hutomo’s style of art. There is a very real feel of confusion and dirt, that dark future feel like you might get from watching Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell.

Sean Konot does a great job with the lettering, changing voice nicely with texture and color usage. He manages to fit all the words into the pages without it seeming jumbled. And finally Jim Demonakos handles editing duties nicely.

Radical Publishing presents another great hit. You may remember I reviewed another series of theirs, Hotwire, previously. And Shrapnel is again an example of the great quality of writing and art the guys and gals over at Radical are consistently putting out. I mean it’s good, like, they should make a movie of it good… oh, wait…. they ARE! That’s right, this relatively new to the comic scene company has a movie in preproduction with our heroine Sam being played by Hilary Swank. So yeah, good job Radical. If you’re into dystopian futures and some really good writing, check Shrapnel out today.

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