Linework NW Preview: Space Riders #1


Space Riders #1
Written by Fabian Rangel Jr. 
Illustrated by Alexis Ziritt
Lettered by Ryan Ferrier
Black Mask Studios

If you're looking for a comic that will shoot science fiction space battle awesomeness into your brain with psychedelic art turned up to 11, I've got good news. Space Riders is here, and it's a lot of fun. The first issue is out now from Black Mask studios, and if you need an antidote from science fiction or superhero comics that are overly grim or ponderous, it's just the thing.

Capitan Peligro (i.e., "Captain Danger") is part of the EISF (which seems to be a lot like Starfleet). When we meet Peligro, he's in a bad way: Floating in space with his eye stabbed out.  He's rescued by his ship, the Santa Muerte (which is shaped like a giant skull), but he's decommissioned for a year. Upon his return, he's got a new first mate named Mono that looks a lot like a baboon and a robot psychologist who's responsible for him being taken off of active duty for a year. They're not back in space for long when they're attacked by Vikers (that being a spacefaring motorcycle gang dressed up in Viking garb, because why not).  They escape the Vikers, but as the first issue ends, things seemingly go from bad to worse.

This is a fun, crazy, spectacularly weird comic. It's also a story that succeeds on several levels. On the surface, this is a terrifically fun comic with some of the most delightfully out-there art I've seen in a long time. However, it's clear that Peligro and his first mate Mono are both people (or beings) that are struggling with pain, anger and loss. It's an engaging story, as we want to know what's driving Peligro, what are the demons in his past, in addition to finding out how the hell they're going to get themselves out of their current predicament. The book doesn't dwell on his demons, but they're there, and they add some depth to the story. Peligro is a very bad man (I mean that in the best possible way). He's committed to his mission and has no compunctions about killing anyone that opposes him. Rangel and Ziritt also give him a dark, fearsome sense of humor; when asked why his ship, his beloved Santa Muerte, is shaped like a skull, his answer is that "when the enemy sees the fuckin' Santa Muerte they shit their goddamn pants."

Ziritt does some fantastic, jaw-droppingly psychedelic space art in this comic. He's got a style that's rough, and detailed, and colors that explode off of the page. It's very much his own style, but if you enjoy the work of artists like Tom Scioli, Nathan Fox (who was the artist on the recent Captain Victory, another great series with a somewhat similar feel to it), Jim Mahfood or James Stokoe, then you'll really enjoy this book. Ziritt does some gorgeous, inspired design work here, as the Santa Muerte really is a giant skull flying through space. When it operates the tractor beam, its mouth opens. When Peligro finds himself on the outs a year later, he's in a dusty, grimy bar that's drawn so vividly you can almost smell it. And the Vikers? You'll want to linger on their design for a while, as you've never seen a Viking-themed space motorcycle gang look better than this (their bikes alone are gorgeously ugly, if that makes sense). Each page is packed with weird, detailed surprises.

Reading this comic is an energizing, cynicism-reducing experience, as it feels like Rangel and Ziritt (with strong lettering from Ryan Ferrier, a talented creator in his own right) took their most exciting, insane ideas and committed to telling a story about them. I can't wait to see what Capitan Peligro and the crew of the Santa Muerte do next; Space Riders is a ridiculously fun read and I highly recommend it.

Artist Alexis Ziritt will be appearing at Linework NW this weekend. Here's an overview of the event.