Skyward Volume One: My Low-G Life
Writer: Joe Henderson
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover: Lee Garbett
Publisher: Image Comics
Review by Cameron Kieffer
Imagine if, one day, the law of gravity no longer mattered. You could no longer keep both feet on the ground. Anytime you would venture outside, you’d run the risk of floating upwards and never making your way back to the earth. And the storms? Rain no longer falls in showers but appear as enormous water-filled masses that travel around like gelatinous, flying objects, threatening everything in their path. Crazy right? Welcome to the world of Skyward.
Our story begins on G-Day, the day in which gravity was reduced to a fraction of what it once was, and the world became a much more dangerous, unpredictable place. On this day, Nate Fowler watched helplessly as his beloved wife floated away, quite literally leaving him to care for their infant daughter Willa alone. Twenty-years later, Willa is an courageous, young thrill-seeker, employed as a messenger, soaring across the skies, delivering shipments all over the city. Despite being able to kiss the sky, Willa’s aspirations are even higher – she wants to venture out of the city and see the world. Nate, however, is a recluse, seemingly driven mad by his earlier experience and refusing to venture outdoors for even a moment. This difference of perspective has driven a rift between the two, until Nate makes a startling revelation: he has discovered how to fix the events of G-Day.
Writer Joe Henderson has crafted a fascinating world, one that eschews the normal “pseudo-science” of most comic books, and actually gives us a glimpse of what a world with lower gravity might be like. Street-punks use knives and other objects instead of guns, which, if used, could propel the user backward without guarantee of ever stopping! Meanwhile, the high-class citizens employ technological advancements such as gravity boots to maintain a semblance of the life they knew before G-Day. It’s an interesting concept to show the divide between social classes, those whose lives were ruined and those who found success in the wake of a catastrophic event. On one side are Nate and Willa, the later of whom works to support the both of them; on the other side is Nate’s former colleague Roger Darrow, who’s become rich as a result of G-Day and may be willing to sacrifice anyone who might threaten the empire he’s built. Needless to say, a conflict soon arises and not everyone may make it out alive.
As big and clever as his ideas are, Henderson’s story might fall apart without an engaging cast. Fortunately Willa is a fun, captivating character who carries the story as easily as she can carry a huge crate of milk across the clouds (it’s a thing that happens, just go with it). She’s smart, sassy, and pretty much a total bad-ass. The relationship between Willa and her father is full of both drama and humor – their dynamic reminds me a lot of Veronica and Keith from Veronica Mars, but with some understated animosity. Nate is a great character on his own, and has his share of humorous and heroic moments. While this initial story arc belongs to Willa and Nate, the supporting cast (including the villainous Darrow, possible love-interest Edison and Willa’s co-workers) are compelling enough to help carry the series going forward.
A story this grandiose requires an artist to bring this world to life and artist Lee Garbett is up to the task. There’s a kinetic energy throughout that makes smaller, dialogue-filled moments seems just as face-paced as the action scenes. The aforementioned storm that occurs late in the book is revealed in a beautifully-rendered splash page that is unlike anything you might have seen. The characters are equally beautiful: they’re stylized but completely believable to look at. Both Willa and her ill-fated mother are among the most gorgeous women I’ve seen in a comic in recent years. The colors by Antionio Fabela perfectly fit Garbett’s pencils and give the city and its skies a vibrancy that contrasts nicely with the darker, shadowy images of the streets below. Lastly is the expert lettering by Simon Bowland that matches the lighthearted dialogue and emotional intensity of the words perfectly.
The Verdict: Buy it!
If you missed the single issues as they came out, or just forgot to add it to your pull-list after the second issue (like me), there is no reason not to pick up the trade. At only $9.99, it collects the first five-issues, and even features a few bonus sketches, including an amazing, alternate cover by Jock. The fascinating story and its characters are worth investing in. And the tragic last chapter proves there’s plenty of story left to tell, with repercussions that might make you grab the nearest tissue and will definitely compel you to get the newest issue – which thankfully was released this week as well!