World Reader #1
Writer: Jeff Loveness
Artist: Juan Doe
Colorist: Juan Doe
Letterer: Rachel Deering
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
A review by Kylee Sills
We weren’t ever alone in the universe until now. That’s the premise of World Reader from AfterShock Comics, taking audiences on a journey through the galaxy with a crew of astronauts who are searching for life beyond humanity. There are plenty of signs of life that Sarah and her crew stumble upon, but from the first issue it is clear that from one planet to the next they are only finding the remnants of societies brought down.
With a gruff, skeptical, and somewhat cliched Captain who doesn’t believe in Sarah’s abilities to commune with whatever species once inhabited a planet, and Harris, the hopeful, helpful teammate who wants to believe in her, the supporting team is exactly what you might be expecting. However, I’m hopeful that they’re going to play larger, more complex roles in Sarah’s journey because of how easily they were characterized when introduced. So far, both teammates have well-defined roles and goals from the get-go, even if it’s unclear why they’d drag Sarah along if she hadn’t already proved herself.
See, Sarah’s a psychic astronaut, with the ability to experience the lives of the alien races who once roamed the desolate planets they continually land on. In World Reader #1, she somehow seeks out the spirits of aliens past in the ether and connects with them in a way that allows her (and us as readers) a first person point of view to what caused them to go extinct. It’s as emotional of a journey as one might expect witnessing the doomed ending of an alien race, but it’s also Sarah’s compassion displayed at the alien’s fear that makes for great writing by Jeff Loveness.
In her quest for the cause of all of these dead planets, Sarah might have touched upon something even more sinister and unwittingly put herself in its path.
Loveness writes his characters with such life and manages to make mundane conversations flow well between Sarah and her possible partner-in-crime, Harris. World Reader #1 was written so seamlessly as to integrate readers into the action as quickly and easily as possible, which Loveness succeeds at with ease. Rachel Deering deserves a shout out as well for her impeccable lettering of speech bubbles, voice over narration in multiple areas, and the jarring explosions of radio chatter that happen from time to time in the issue. Panels are very easy to follow and the lettering works hand in hand with the art.
There is a fluidity to the art, a feeling of life moving from panel to panel that perfectly complements Sarah’s abilities. Juan Doe uses bright, neon colors and dark solid lines to signify a vibrant alien world – alternating between warm colors for the planet and cooler colors for the ether that Sarah enters.
The aliens are almost rendered with more emotion than the humans on display through World Reader #1, but both are fascinating to look at. The backgrounds in the ether and while Sarah is accessing her abilities are nearly psychedelic in nature and compliment the colors of the book well. Coupled with the wavy, softer backgrounds and it’s a beautiful read from start to finish.
Buy It! If you’re well-versed in the dystopian future that much of the sci-fi genre is so eager to present, World Reader #1 is the palate cleansing answer to that bleak outlook. With a unique take on exploring the universe and some great characters already introduced, the book promises an emotional journey through space that focuses on standing up for hope and life. Between Loveness’ smart writing and Doe’s bright colors, space has never been more welcoming – no matter how empty it might seem.