Writers: Ben Robinson and Jon Williams
Artist: Jon Williams
Independently published, March 2021
Space Oddities is a sci-fi adventure comic created by the effervescent duo of Ben Robinson and Jon Williams, with illustrations handled by the latter. (Messrs Robinson and Williams are well-known for their podcast, Geekxploration.)
The comic is independently published and the first issue has been successfully funded through Kickstarter, with the crowdfunding proceeds also allowing the creators to secure the help of colorist Dan Olvera.
Space Oddities is set in a fictional future in which mankind is spacefaring, having built colonies outside of our planet’s immediate vicinity, and have interacted with alien civilisations. The main cast consists of the leader Dirk, his friend and pilot/mechanic Jorge, and the newest addition to the crew, the strong-willed and smart Jhett.
To first time readers of a certain age, Space Oddities will feel like an homage to Star Wars, only with the humor dialled all the way up. Dirk looks like a member of the U.S. Secret Service, but for all intents and purposes, he’s the Han Solo of the crew, and the brawny kilt-wearing Jorge is his Chewbacca. They are coerced into letting their foil, Jhett, join the group. Jhett is the token female member who always manages to get one over the male protagonists.
This first issue introduces Dirk and Jorge to the reader, as well as their profession: freelancers who procure relics and rarities for clients with enough money to afford their services. Reminiscent of the crew of the Millennium Falcon, our heroes are almost always broke due to mismanagement of funds and resources. They are hired to infiltrate a compound owned by a high ranking government official, and steal an ancient religious relic. This turns out to be a DVD collection of the TV show The Bachelorette‘s 2nd season. It’s a punchline that will most likely age poorly, but at the moment it is a humorous twist that hits its mark.
Jhett is a government official’s daughter. Dirk has to con her and steal her access to the compound. But as implied earlier, Jhett is smarter than her cohort. She allowed the theft to occur, but also stole Dirk’s access to the Oddities’ ship, called the Aftoza. Jhett bars the duo’s escape route, and only allows them to escape on the condition that she comes along as part of their crew. This sets up the next issue, as Jhett’s father hires a mysterious bounty hunter to recover his daughter.
Space Oddities #1 is a great first issue for people who grew up on Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but without going overboard and venturing into rip-off territory. The dynamics between the Aftoza’s crew and the peripheral cast will feel familiar and comfortable.
While we do enjoy the characterization in Space Oddity, it has its flaws. The story relies on a hefty dose of jargon, which is understandable given the setting and the fact that it is the first issue – the reader has not learned the lingo as yet. But it sometimes ruins the momentum, requiring a backread to put things into context. This minor problem we think will diminish as the story progresses, and returning readers become more familiar with the world the creative team are building.
In terms of art, Jon Williams uses an art style that perfectly represents the tone of Space Oddities. It is unfair to say that Mr Williams does not rely on exaggerated caricatures (alien creatures with non-human shapes notwithstanding, a bug-bear of this site’s editor – see https://www.worldcomicbookreview.com/2016/01/25/nothing-alien-here/). But the characters are rendered in a way that sacrifices realism in favor of slightly cartoonish visuals that bring to mind early 2000s webcomics. Details can be sparse in some panels’ backgrounds, but to his credit Mr Williams renders everything that is needed with enough clarity to be instantly recognizable.
We do not know how much Messrs Robinson and Williams paid Dan Olvera, but it was money well spent. The space scenes are a joy to look at – the scenes that featured stars, planetary bodies (including what looks like a sun) add a lot of depth and realism to the visuals, without contradicting Williams highly stylized art style.
At the time of this review, the second issue of Space Oddities has been crowdfunded and released. We recommend this title to readers who are looking for light-hearted space adventure comic books. You can check out their website, which contains a link to their crowd-funding campaigns, at Spaceodditiescomic.Com.