REVIEW: ‘Universe!,’ Volume #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Universe! Volume #1
Universe! Volume #1
is published by Image Comics and is both written and illustrated by Albert Monteys. If a person could trademark all of creation, should they? What if humanity taught robots to love, but they started loving us too much? When Wortham Industries are involved, the sky is the limit. For better or worse.

The range of science fiction is often as vast as the night sky itself. It can be used for such a plethora of story types that the possibilities are nearly endless. Whether for far-reaching adventures among the stars, to ask deep questions about the place, and the cost, of ever-evolving technology in our lives, sci-fi stories have a lot to say. But there is a third kind of science fiction tale. It’s the kind of tale that takes all the trappings of science fiction and simply flips it on its head. It delivers strange concepts. Sometimes funny, and sometimes tragic. This is the kind of sci-fi Universe! Volume #1 is made of.

The five anthology-style stories that make up Universe! Volume #1 deliver a set of loosely connected tales. With each one set in the distant future, the weird and strange rule the day. Creator Montey’s version of what awaits humanity is one of the strangest I’ve seen. It goes into lots of areas of science fiction, though time manipulation is a recurring theme, and with each aspect of the genre it touches, it does something unique and interesting. This uniqueness is by far its strongest virtue.

Our first stop in our journey here introduces us to a hapless employee of  Wortham Industries named Thomas. Thomas has a long day ahead of him after a surprise call from work brings him in on his day off. It turns out the furniture company he works for just accidentally stumbled upon the secret to time travel. So they want to send Thomas back to the Big Bang so he can imprint their trademark on all of creation. Luckily, his suit will return him to the present without time ever passing!

With this job at hand and a robotic assistant to help him out, he is sent back to the beginning of time. Once back at the beginning of creation, however, Thomas learns a truth that his boss failed to mention. When he said he’d return to the present without time passing, what he meant was time wouldn’t pass in his specially designed suit. Outside, it would pass as normal. So Thomas has a few billion years to chill through till he gets himself back to his own day. Needless to say, Thomas gets himself into a little trouble, and human history will never be quite the same.

This opening tale does a great job of setting up the style of storytelling Universe! Volume #1 delivers throughout its collection of tales. While later stories get a bit heavier with some of their content, they all feature this sort of weird science that does stuff like keep time from passing within a spacesuit. While each story delivers its unique and clever concepts with great skill, it’s lacking in character and narrative.

As each story focuses on different individuals, no one character ever really gets a chance to develop. This keeps the more serious moments in the stories from ever really landing. The same is true for the moments when the book is trying to be more humorous. It just never manages to stick the landing, making each of its five stories interesting oddities but not much else.

The art in Universe! Volume #1 only further pushes its narrative into the middle of the road as its presentation of the world it brings readers fails to ever truly hit the mark. It relays the oddities and individuals within its stories clearly, but its overall style feels a bit too blasé to truly capture what the stories are going for. The sci-fi concepts feel at odds with the overly classic style of comic art. It feels like a story striving for a strange new future that is shackled by antiquated visuals.

So, while nothing in Universe! Volume #1 is ever what I’d call bad, it rarely manages to really feel good either. It delivers some quirky science concepts and a few interesting scenarios, but that’s about it. If you are looking for something truly unique in the genre there may be enough in this collection to make it worth your wild. If you are looking for something with some substance, however, I’d say you are better looking elsewhere.

Universe! Volume #1 is available on October 21st wherever comics are sold.


Universe! Volume #1
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TL;DR

Universe! Volume #1 delivers some quirky science concepts and a few interesting scenarios, but that’s about it. If you are looking for something truly unique in the genre there may be enough in this collection to make it worth your wild. If you are looking for something with some substance, however, I’d say you are better looking elsewhere.