“The Vanguard” – The most state-of-the-art Interstellar vessel ever created, roars through the vast darkness of space. It’s crew of 24, held in a suspended dream-like stasis for decades in what seems like the blink of an eye.
Eighty years earlier, a united Earth worked together in the face of human extinction towards a common goal – to send a team of humanities best beyond observable space, dubbed Project LEAP. Their goal is to map the stars so that the human race can some day follow them and find new resources, new life and if needs be… a new home!
Decades after launch they reach their first destination, and our story begins, but what will the crew find on the new planet they orbit, aliens, machines, gods? What will they find out about themselves, their objectives and their futures…
Aliens, planets, monsters, robots and spaceships- who knows what else is out there! We send them our hope, for hope is all we can send them…
Volume Zero of this brand new title comes in full colour A4 high quality trade paper back print containing 46 pages of scifi goodness. Concept originally created by Daniel McLaughlin and Kevin Logue, all art duties we’re held in house by the Uproar Team of Jonny Lynn, Ciaran Doherty, Richard Rodgers, Marcus Kirk and Nathan McIntyre. Exclusive to this issue only lead art duties were held by Michael O’Callaghan. With a special shout out to the rest of the team – Holly Stinson, Michael “The Bearded” Arbuthnot, Stephen King, Heather Taylor, Ruth Thompson, Chris McGovern, and Jordan Sandy.
Uproar Comics, the Northern Ireland based Multimedia Production, Publishing and Services Company, are best known for their critically acclaimed and award winning comic book series, Zombies Hi which – as the observant among you may have figured out – features a post-apocalyptic, zombie infested, scenario.
The guys and gals at Uproar, being the mighty Nerds that they are, have a self-confessed love of sci-fi and so after running a competition in 2013 to help decide what their next major project would be they have unveiled what promises to be a space epic: Leap. It’s a gamble, but they are fearless. Set in the distant future, over 86 years since departing the Earth, the crew of the Vanguard are awoken when their star ship, Vanguard, reaches an inhabited planet.
The story starts with action, as one of the (probably) main characters, Pol, not only encounters two different intelligent lifeforms but saves one from the other; I felt a sense of Alien meets Star Trek during this encounter as Pol was dressed in something similar to Ripley’s exosuit but the landscape and atmosphere was very much Kirk battling the Gorn. When Pol stands victorious, and the carnivorous alien has run to the hills, the bipedal, almost human, aliens that he rescued are in awe of him.
It is quickly established when Pol is contacted by a colleague that he is a bit of a wildcard who doesn’t obey the rules, so it was a nice touch to have some of the character archetypes introduced for the future. Speaking of characters we really only see 4 in this prologue issue: Pol, the Head of Security (and new God to the aliens); Cole, the defacto damsel in distress as he gets himself captured and has to be rescued; Prime/Anna, the tough, no nonsense commander of the expedition; and her helper droid. They each have a unique voice – including the droid who, for some reason, I don’t trust! – and the interplay between them is a nice setup for future issues.
There is, of course, drama other than just the mandatory battle with the indigenous race as what will probably be part of the major plotline is revealed. I won’t spoil it but, as is to be expected in something of this genre, not everything on board the Vanguard – or with the mission – is what it seems. We are given plenty of teases for future issues such as the mysterious ‘beacons’ that are to be left on each planet, what happened to the Project: LEAP offices, what does the chief engineer son of the man behind Project: LEAP know, and just WHAT is that shifty looking/acting droid up to?!?
…ok, the thing about the droid may just be me
Now, being honest, not everything is perfect with Leap #0. The dialogue is a bit clunky in places and the plot is verging very close to clichéd (Prometheus, Alien, Star Trek, and Enemy Mine came to mind while reading it) but to be fair to the Uproar team it is impossible to put out something like this without comparisons to what came before being made. In their defence Uproar don’t cross the cliché line – thanks to the unique touches and mysteries they are putting in themselves; I especially liked the way that Pol’s exosuit resembled the aliens (three ‘fingers’) which led to his sudden rise to Deity hood.
The artwork is mostly very good indeed. The backgrounds are lovely, as are the aliens and the droids. Most of the characters look good but there was something that I didn’t like about Prime’s face. Now maybe she is just meant to look slightly different to most female characters that we’ve seen before but, for me, her face was just a little too long. A niggle, I know, but when everything else is good you notice the negatives more.
The lettering is good, with different choices nicely highlighting the human versus alien languages. Two more small niggles here are the fact that if you are going to use alien profanity then use it or don’t, but don’t use a ‘tongue in cheek’ narrative box which takes you a little out of the story. Also the carnivorous alien looked beautiful but the sound affects used for its ‘roar’ could’ve have been developed better …unfortunately it looked like the same sound effect/lettering had simply been cut, resized, and pasted into different panels.
The story/plot is engaging, enough familiarity to other big sci-fi movies to make it comfortable with enough new and unique touches to make it interesting. The mysteries are nicely introduced, without seeming heavy handed, and at the end of the issue I was definitely left wanting to read more about the Vanguard and her crew.
So, as a completely different comic – in presentation, style, and genre – from Zombies Hi! Uproar has taken a brave gamble which, for me, has paid off.
Definitely worth picking up and trying out.
Uproar Comics are a Northern Ireland based Multimedia Production, Publishing and Services Company. In June 2011 from a love of comics we as a group of hobbyists produced and we released what has become our flagship title the Award winning and on-going series “Zombies Hi”. With rapid sales we continued on with the series and soon began facilitating workshops around comic production. Organically the company starting forming around us, we naturally fell into our new roles and in October 2011 Uproar Comics was officially established.
Growth of the company seen us expand into delivering tailor made workshops, game and app development, and applying our unique skill set to finding creative solutions for businesses to engage with the audiences through innovative marketing material. We believe in telling stories and the power of both words and art no matter the medium and we intend to explore them all.
We have worked with a wealth of happy and reputable clientele including the BBC, Western Trust, Culture Company, Public Health Agency, and the European Business Network. We believe in keeping our clients happy by providing them with products and services that don’t comprise on quality at a very competent price and this has provided us with our track record for great client satisfaction.