VOYAGE TO THE STARS By Ryan Copple, James Asmus and Connie Daidone
IDW Publishing, s/b, £10.26
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
Based on a “hit sci-fi comedy podcast”, this graphic novel features a ragtag bunch of misfits blundering through space, screwing up pretty much everything they encounter.
Featuring their self-appointed, egotistical captain Tucker, chemically-dependent science officer Elsa, part man, part machine Stew, the ship’s engineer, Nico, a humanoid red panda, and Sorry, the ship’s AI. Arguing as they go, they are the last survivors of Earth now that it’s been wiped out by The Nothing. They have a secret weapon to help them defeat The Nothing, and on planet Fun 97 (named in a radio station promo stunt), they find The Chosen Defender, or Exemplar as he calls himself. A perfect part human, part machine hybrid (unlike the ship’s engineer Stew, who is short, dumpy and in love with the ship’s AI), he was engineered to be perfect in every way and to defeat the greatest threat the universe will ever face by assembling “The Something” – a weapon designed to destroy The Nothing. The Knights Exemplar are an ancient cult that worship Exemplar and have been waiting for him to awaken so they can assist him in defeating The Nothing and saving the universe.
Tucker becomes intensely jealous of Exemplar and accidentally kills him, thereby setting off a chain of events that eventually leads to the majority of the Knights Exemplar being wiped out, and the Exemplar coming back to life in a murderous fit of rage determined to destroy the entire universe.
I will admit that I’ve not listened to the podcast, but the book was entertaining. The characters are all deeply flawed, and if I’m honest, rather unlikeable, but that’s the way they’ve been written and portrayed to make a contrast with most other space dramas, which are all populated by honourable, inspiring captains and their nice crews.
Several different illustration styles are used in the book, ranging from near manga-style to something that resembles Calvin and Hobbes (in artistic style, at least). The panels range in size, with some pages in a traditional layout and some full-page panels for particularly dramatic moments. The colours are all very bright and really do bring the misadventures of the characters to life.
If you enjoy shows like Star Trek, The Orville, or remember the film Galaxy Quest, then consider this the anti-Star Trek. Pick it up and revel in the misbehaviour of the crew as they try to save the universe.