Cluster #1 (2015)
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Damian Couceiro
Colors: Michael Garland
Covers: James Stokoe, Simon Roy
Ed Brisson has quite the repertoire of great books under his belt! With the work he has done on sleeper hits such as Prophet, Sheltered, and the In The Dark anthology, he has consistently proven his talents. So when a book shows up, almost out of no where, with his name and Boom! Studios veteran Damian Couceiro (who had previously worked with Brisson on Sons of Anarchy) adding his signature style, this issue was a no brainer.
The Writing and Story
Cluster takes place in a universe where prisoners are dropped onto the planet Midlothian, which, humans are trying to colonize. The prisoners quickly discover that they have been drafted, and are forced to fight another warring species for dominion of the planet. Samara, the main prisoner of the story, was placed under arrest for driving under the influence and severely harming others in the process. The story begins with her arrest and then immediately shoots to her transportation (via cryo-tube in a spaceship) and drop off at Tranent Penitentiary, the barracks/prison on Midlothian. Samara and the other prisoners don't have time to settle in, as they are quickly prepped and trained to fight. After some brief character/species introductions, the prisoners get dropped in the front lines as the enemy species starts to strike on some of the humans' resources. Oh, and did I mention that if they don't return to the prison in a certain amount of time their insides will liquefy?
Brisson proves with every page that he can handle the scifi genre masterfully, while also providing a narration that makes the story even more engrossing. I feel it necessary to note that each character has apparent motives and a distinct voice (just like real prison?), many of which start developing more in just this first issue! Providing that level of narration and character development is particularly impressive as this issue continues to pick up and move at a break neck pace.
Oooooooooh man. This art is hectic and busy and I love it. The environment of Midlothian is sprawling and endless, further emphasizing how stranded the prisoners are, and how impossible escape is. What the environment lacks in definition (to the story's benefit), the characters make up for with uniqueness and definition. While many of the inmates are human, there are also some serious bruisers out and about ranging from strange to monstrous, each with an attitude to match. Action sequences are drawn with large explosions and violent physicality, hammering home the war that the prisoners must fight. Couceiro's enhances Brisson's fast paced hit-and-run narration, with style, creating an even more epic tale.
The Bottom Line
The team behind this book is weaving a scifi story that has what all successful scifi stories have: an understanding that not everything needs to be explained. You don't finish this book with wordy explanations of who some of these species are and what other casualties the war has demanded, you finish this book with wonderment at this exceptional opener and complete curiosity at what will happen next. By taking certain aspects of the genre, mixing them together, and creating something that is somehow 100% original in idea and execution, Brisson and Couceiro have made buying this book an OBVIOUS choice. Cluster #1 came out on February 4th, and is still very accessible.