Rogue Planet #1 is an Oni Press published comic written by Cullen Bunn, with art by Andy MacDonald and Nick Filardi, and letters by Crank! The plot sees a Salvage vessel land on the Lonely Orphan, an isolated planet with no solar system to call home, in search of a payload. Upon landing, the crew finds that there is a nightmarish adventure waiting for them.
The plot serves as a pilot for what is sure to be a creepy and nail-biting series. From the opening panel, the reader is faced with uncomfortable images among new and unsure surroundings. While at first I was worried that this was going to be way too similar to a certain Sigourney Weaver starring film series, Bunn manages to embrace his influences and steer them into a different direction that may even be more terrifying.
MacDonald and Filardi amplify the fear that resonates through this book. The squares and straight lines from the artist somehow manage to put me even more on edge while reading it. Things don’t look pretty in Rogue Planet, and that is potentially intentional. The Cortés, the vessel, looks claustrophobic and cold. The spacesuits look uncomfortable and cramped. And the planet itself is dark, miserable and unfriendly. As one of the characters says, “it’s ugly.” Filardi’s use of colours is one aspect of the book that has beauty. From the bright red on the suits inside the ship to the bright crystals on the planet’s surface, the colours of Rogue Planet #1 catch your eye even if you’re trying to not look at the horror unfolding.
The characters face a shortfall in that the world around them is more interesting than they are. When introduced, the snappy roll call of all of them makes it hard to keep track of them, but Bunn does a stellar job of mixing character moments into the bundle of exposition through the use of dialogue. The captain, Joel Norris, is a greedy hardass. Gloria, the medic, is presented in her opening dialogue as a hopeful dreamer. But there is still an abundance of characters that from the first issue seem like food for whatever horrors they step into. Which is fine. This is a comic about survival, some of the characters aren’t going to make it. But it would still be nice to see some of these characters grow before they’re slaughtered.
Despite the character explorations, it is occasionally difficult to differentiate between the characters when they are in their suits. This has the impact of distracting the reader from what is happening on the page during action scenes because they are struggling to recognize the person under attack. And while the details in the hair and facial features of the characters are varied, the fact that they are all wearing the same costume doesn’t help separate them from each other.
That may be the one negative about the chaotic, intense moments towards the end of the issue. Bunn fantastically manages to keep a tense feel throughout the book, where the sense that something awful is going to happen on the next page puts you on the edge of your seat while reading it. And when the action erupts, it’s unleashed at a frantic and manic pace that is as much horrifying as it is exciting. The gore is detailed and scintillating while the sharp lettering by Crank! appears to send those shivers further up my spine.
Rogue Planet #1 is a brutal and eerie comic that seems like it’s been created by a merger between Lovecraft and Ridley Scott. The fluctuating pace means that every page is packed with teeth-clenching suspense. The location our protagonists have landed on means that every square foot is hostile and means that what happens next issue is completely unpredictable.
Reading this put me in a constant state of unease, which is the highest compliment I could give. You are never skim reading your way through this comic, it won’t let you. Sadly, the characters haven’t resonated with me as much as the overall plot and landscape has. Bunn’s attempts to make certain characters likeable and unlikeable are welcome but most unsuccessful until one page towards the end of the issue. This will hopefully be resolved as the story progresses, and this is still the primary horror comic readers should pick up.
Rogue Planet #1 is available on April 1st where comics are sold.
Rogue Planet #1
Reading this put me in a constant state of unease, which is the highest compliment I could give. You are never skim reading your way through this comic, it won’t let you. Sadly, the characters haven’t resonated with me as much as the overall plot and landscape has.
Screenwriter with a love of comics and movies. Once referred to Wuthering Heights as “the one with the Rabbits.”