Written by Miles Greb
Art by Isaac La Russa
Colours by Michael Shepard
Letters by Jamie Me
Beginning its life as an Editor’s Choice on Kickstarter, After the Gold Rush was pushed extraordinarily far into the atmosphere of creator-owned comics; as occasionally happens, the book instantly found its audience. This first issue quickly introduces us to Scout, the talented scientist that we are going to be exploring the universe with. Her personality instantly draws you in and, with the pitch-perfect art from La Russa, the world around her has already begun to fall into place.
Without a compelling protagonist an exploration of the potential within each human wouldn’t be anywhere near as interesting to read. As loaded as the adjective has become in recent years, there is a certain quirkiness that conveys two of her key properties: her natural aptitude for science and her absolute inexperience functioning on her own. Introducing this endearing flaw to the character so early in her development allows you to easily connect with her; she's clearly making all of this up on the fly, and you want to experience this new and exciting journey with her.
From its initial conception, this series was intended as a bright future for the human race to serve as a shining beacon in the myriad of dark and gloomy futures. Although her adventure is not free of strife, the narration that surrounds her arrival onto the planet demonstrates to us that human life is continuing out in the deepest recesses of space. Coupled with that, Scout’s reaction to the planet and her approach to the investigation implies that this is a continued expansion instead of a last-ditch hunt for survival. Frankly, it’s a breath of fresh air in a genre that has descended far too absolutely into the desolate and will hopefully inspire writers to imagine and strive for a world where everything is going to be alright.
This bright and powerful future is brought to life by the talented hand of Isaac La Russa who possesses a style that somehow manages to fall somewhere between one that is inherently detailed and a simplified style that focuses on clarity. The design of Scout’s spaceship is a measured one that emerged fully-formed from La Russa's brain in an extremely believable way. As we explore the landscape, you can observe small creatures, rubble and varied fauna in the background of shots which allows the world to feel far more whole.
One thing that Scout observes as she lands on planet Earth is the lushness of the fauna and how enveloping it is. Michael Shepard’s colours blend perfectly with La Russa’s pencils to show off how much the planet has changed while its original inhabitants have been off galavanting around the rest of the universe. The spacesuit is an intricately designed piece of equipment that has been highlighted in all of the right places by its chosen pallet; such a synergy between the artist and the colourist shows off how competent they each are and how much you can achieve when you bring two talented people together.
Lettering is one of the most underappreciated and undervalued skills for the vast majority of a reading audience. I will admit that I regularly find it difficult to comment on what the choice of letters add to a story, so I like to point it out when it’s noticeable. The colours of the textboxes themselves have been carefully selected as to always stand out from the background, but are still shrewdly appropriate to the scene in question. A review of this issue wouldn't be complete without mentioning the font for the running diagonistic equipment in the first few pages. It would have been extremely easy to gloss over this little detail and select a generic, computerised font, but Jamie Me goes above and beyond to select what seems to be a carbon-copy of the original terminal lettering. Thankfully, this introduces a level of immersion that could have easily been missed by a lesser collaborator.
Projects that have received their funding through Kickstarter with enticing premises and unique creators are wont to descend into a pit of mediocrity. It’s rare that you stumble across a series with as much reach and influence as this that is simultaneously as capable at meeting those enormous expectations. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this first issue ever since I stumbled across the project some months ago and I was honestly worried that it was going to disappoint. It’s clear that this book is a passion project for each and every person involved and has breathed life into my belief that this genre still has something to offer me. In a world where so many titles are screaming from the rooftop for your attention, it’s nice to find that shining star to guide you home.