REVIEW: ‘The Wrong Earth: Fame or Fortune,’ Issue #1

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The Wrong Earth Fame or Fortune #1 - But Why Tho

The Wrong Earth: Fame or Fortune #1 is the second of a series of one-shots set in the Wrong Earth universe published by Ahoy Comics, written by Mark Russell, art by Michael Montenat, colours by Andy Troy and letters by Rob Steen. As a new stadium is opened on both Earth Alpha and Earth Omega, the way that billionaire Richard Fame funds the project on either Earth leads to disaster.

The plot of the first story (the stadium story) is brilliantly structured and crafted. The adventure is mirrored on both Earths as the mayor is brought the idea of a new stadium for the city by Fame. On Earth Alpha, Fame is secretly Dragonflyman, and the idea is built on improving the morale and pride of the city. On Omega, Fame is instead Dragonman, desiring solely profit. Each has the exact same trajectory but with differences in the finances and how the deal is struck. And for much of the story, Russell has us believe that one is perfect whilst the other is corrupt and negative. Yet the twist in the tale happens on both Earths in similar fashions, shocking in the speed and the scale in which it occurs. The script is beautifully turned on its head and changes the tone of the comic. The theme of this story is clearly money as The Wrong Earth: Fame or Fortune #1 explores the ways in which billionaires and officials act cheap even when possessing loads of it. The array of politics at play is also fascinating, and the final part of the story is jaw-dropping. 

The polarising aspects of the two characters have been the swelling point of this universe since its inception, yet the way in which that is put to the test may not be executed as superbly as it has here. From the first page, Russell insinuates that one is better and more honourable than the other. Where Dragonflyman is decent to the construction workers and seems positive in what he wants to achieve, Dragonman is threatening and violent towards those on the project. But as the story unfolds further, the deep, terrible flaws within both of them show each of our main characters to be quite similar in how they function. They are both businessmen, in the end. At the end of the one-shot, there is a really bad taste in the mouth regarding the representatives from each Earth and how they act. 

The biggest issue regarding the characters is not the fault of this one-shot itself, but largely due to what has come before it. To know what the premise is from the start of each Wrong Earth one-shot is difficult as it seems to change every time. In the previous edition, Dragonman and Dragonflyman had swapped Earths, existing in opposite spaces. That is what much of the drama came from. But in this one-shot, that appears to not be the case, with the originals occupying their home planets. Getting my head around the change led to much confusion as to the status quo of the series. 

The art is fantastic. The connected planets are literally split down the middle of the page. One half is Dragonflyman’s world, the other half is Dragonman’s world. This creative panel layout allows for the symmetry and juxtaposition of the scenes to be as clear as possible. For much of the comic, Fame’s alter ego isn’t visible on either Earth, focusing largely on the business dealings. Montenat’s art style is almost cinematic in the way in which facial expressions are illustrated. That Earths Aloha and Omega can be identified with little effort is astounding, due to how the characters are represented. On Alpha, the people are flamboyant and jovial, whilst Omega is like a Bond film. The lines blur when the situation takes a turn for the worst later on. The injuries in this one-shot are brutal, again magnifying the shock value. 

The colours are crucial to the storytelling in the comic as they are the primary method used to differentiate the worlds. Earth Omega has a sky that bleeds red, casting more shadows on everything and creating darkness on the surface. On Alpha, the air is a more normal blue, and everything is shinier and brighter. When the bad stuff happens, the cognitive dissonance of the positive, happy-go-lucky world is haunting. The letters are easy to read and very dynamic.

It should be mentioned that there is a second story within the one-shot with the same creative team, titled “Buddy System.” Whilst Dragonflyman’s sidekick Stinger goes on a school trip, Dragonman is captured and taunted over his lack of an accomplice. This story has a powerful, emotional tone to it as it comments on isolation and loss. The worlds are split from page to page instead of down the middle of the page this time, the stories on each planet much more separated. The moods on each world are glum, but the severity is massively different.

The Wrong Earth: Fame or Fortune #1 is emotionally conflicting. That first story is beautifully thematic and cleverly written, taking us on a real journey that is soul-crushing in its conclusion. Russell subverts one of the key elements of The Wrong Earth by making both Dragonman and Dragonflyman quite similar by the end of the comic. I ended this issue feeling repulsed by both of them as they jointly demonstrated how awful they are as humans. But I do believe that was the intention of the one-shot, and it is effective if it is. And the storytelling through panel layouts may be some of the most intelligent I’ve ever seen.

The Wrong Earth: Fame or Fortune #1 is available where comics are sold.


The Wrong Earth: Fame or Fortune #1
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TL;DR

The Wrong Earth: Fame or Fortune #1 is emotionally conflicting. That first story is beautifully thematic and cleverly written, taking us on a real journey that is soul-crushing in its conclusion. Russell subverts one of the key elements of The Wrong Earth by making both Dragonman and Dragonflyman quite similar by the end of the comic. I ended this issue feeling repulsed by both of them as they jointly demonstrated how awful they are as humans. But I do believe that was the intention of the one-shot, and it is effective if it is. And the storytelling through panel layouts may be some of the most intelligent I’ve ever seen.