An article by, Kelly Irelan
The human race spends much of its time staring up at the stars. We thrive on the thrill of the unknown as if it were magic. There is something comforting about staring up at the sky and realizing we are infinitesimally small in the grand scope of the universe. We feel its weight like a warm blanket on a cold night and let loose a sigh of relief because maybe our obstacles don’t matter as much as we believe they do. Now, let’s change that script. Imagine staring off into that great beyond. Instead of observing it from a safe, comfortable distance, it surges toward you without warning. It’s engulfing you. It’s consuming you. There’s nothing you can do to oppose it. Welcome to “Skyward.”
The plot begins with “G-Day.” Earth woke up one morning to realize it had lost its sense of gravity. Innocent pedestrians flew up into the air never to be seen again, leaving desperate and despairing loved ones in their wake. Willa, who lost her mother to the sky on “G-Day,” doesn’t ever recall a planet with gravity. She expertly maneuvers her way through a bustling city in a world where the most common mode of travel is flight. It’s the stuff dreams are made of and she’s clearly flourishing under the circumstances. She yearns to further her reach by flying outside of her home metropolis, but her father has other plans. Nate’s world was crushed when he lost his wife to the sky. He sees a recklessness in Willa and refuses to lose her too. He does the only thing a loving father can do. He’s going to BRING BACK GRAVITY. Someone, hand this man a “Father of the Year” award. Obsessive? Maybe. Impressive? YES, if he can manage to pull it off.
Joe Henderson does something special in an issue where very little actually happens concerning story progress. “Skyward” #1 is all about world-building, and it’s a perfectly valid approach because he’s recreating Earth as we know it. The concept of a weightless planet has drifted through my brain before, but I’ve never seen it so expertly expressed on paper. The human race has dreamt of flight ever since we witnessed the ease with which the birds flew up above us. However, I think we’ve generally experienced that vision as a very self-centered notion. We individually imagine flight, but this Chicago that Henderson has weaved into existence envisions flight as something more. It’s communal, and it’s incredible! I felt the happiness Willa felt as she soared above the skyscrapers because it’s a wish we all hold in our hearts. As hard as we try to let it go and stick with the reality we were birthed into, Henderson plays on our emotions in the best way and clearly understands that humans maintain nostalgia for the unobtainable. It was a pleasure to read this inaugural issue.
That being said, without Lee Garbett, you’d only have half of this equation for joy. His expertise is thoroughly apparent and he was a perfect fit for this book. I read through the issue twice and the minor details really caught my eye. Though it’s probably to be expected because she’s our protagonist, I found Willa to be mesmerizing in design due to a feature you’ll take for granted if you’re not paying attention: her hair is weightless. It’s honestly something I almost missed, but when she is still, her hair has weightlessness as if she were under water. When I took notice of it, the biggest smile spread across my face. This is just another part of the magic I was looking for. I am beyond thankful for Lee Garbett’s marriage to this title.
“Skyward” takes us to the heavens without forcing us into capes or secret identities. It calls upon the purest of desires that we’ve held firmly ever since we were children, but also recognizes the drawbacks of a dream unexamined. Is this truly what we’ve always wanted, or have we been fooled by our imaginations? Maybe the limits were there for a reason. Our feet left the ground, but at what cost? These are the questions “Skyward” forces the reader to consider. Pick up this first issue and allow yourself to become untethered.
You can buy Skyward here.