The FOURTH PLANET #1
“” (24 pages)
Story by: Fred Kennedy
Art & Letters by: Miko Maciaszek
Covers by: Miko Maciaszek
Publisher: ChapterHouse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
[Disclaimer: since this is an exclusive pre-release for my eyes only, I may not be entirely accurate on the credits. Apologies in advance to the creators.]
To infinity and beyond!! The veil of time and the fabric of space are pulled in all directions in the latest title to join ChapterHouse Comics!!
The tale begins with a recount of events from human James Borchek, a recent escapee of slavedom. He along with five hundred others soldiers have managed to commandeer the Lightstorm. He sends out a call for freedom among those that were captives of the Tythyk Empire. This offer ends quickly. An armada’s arrival is imminent. Things never go without a hitch.
Point made: James and his crew have no choice but to crash-land on a habitable planet. The damages incurred to the ship will need repair. Their entry does not go unnoticed.
In an ornate palace, five females have been selected and instructed to provide ‘entertainment’ for the ruling Lord Goswynn and his generals. Their inclusion is most note-worthy. They are told to be the ultimate courtisanes in their craft. Otherwise, they will be caned. One of them, Ixandra, is pulled aside since she will be used for greater things.
Lord Goswynn espies home from the port of his sailing vessel. He invites Henzi to partake in the debauchery. The pacifist refuses. He wants to re-join his order and put his skills to better use. Ixandra tells her friend of her newest designation: to serve as Companion for Goswynn one whole night. The two women are accosted by an unsavoury individual. He insults them, slaps one of them, and apprehends them. They can explain themselves to the local authorities.
Capt. Borchek is snapped out of his rêverie. He was dreaming of a tranquil moment with his love, laying on a blanket in a field recalling one of his grandfather’s fave tunes. One of his officers gives him a sit rep. Major operating systems need to be up and running. Some casualties are not yet determined. James decides to dispatch an away team to explore their new surroundings. A Yeti-like alien has been keeping watch over the fallen ship. He seeks an audience with Warlord Illym to report his findings.
The bulbous-like alien who took it upon himself to arrest Ixandra and her friend threatens to have his way with them once they are in custody. Henzi comes to their timely rescue. He explains that refusing to abide by Goswynn’s orders or depriving him of his gift is a grave mistake. Fatty builds up some bravado but in vain. He wisely acquiesces.
Illym hears his Ranger’s report. The wanderer believes it is the goddess Tiff setting down on soil to walk among them. The warlord asks for his advisor’s opinion. The sage disagrees. This outrages the Ranger. He does not want to offend their deity. They must greet her accordingly. Illym orders his general to take his best Stone Riders for an appropriate welcome. Judgment will be met.
Goswynn raises a chalice to his people’s victory over the Foon. While standing silently, Ixandra hears a voice that tells her it will soon be time. Sgt. Edwin instructs his men to begin a thorough investigation. One of the men mentions an energy signature, indicating a power core, a thousand clicks from their current location. The voice keeps communicating with Ixandra. She composes herself as to not arouse suspicion.
The siren-like speech is emanating from an astral entity – a dark womanly figure enveloped in stars. She informs Ixandra that she needs to be found. Once that occurs, she will be in Ix’s servitude and act as protector. Is this Lady Tiff??
30 Seconds to Mars: It seems like the humans’ unplanned trip to the Fourth Planet will last a lot longer than the miniscule time-frame. Any good astronomer knows that Mars is fourth in order of our solar system, right?
Four quarters: Appropriately, there are four groupings comprising the cast of characters: the Tythyk; Goswynn’s race; the Yeti-like beings (the Foon); the Terrans.
“Fearless Fred”, going by his legal name of Fred Kennedy, is the author relaying his interpretation of the sci-fi genre.
I know of Mr. Kennedy’s fame due to his full-time day job as DJ for Toronto’s alternative music station 102.1 The Edge. He has been in their employ for six-and-a-half years. I took to him immediately because of his unique humour, but more importantly, his geek-crushing love of comics!!! He also hosts Teletoon at Night on Canada’s Teletoon. Either way, Mr. Kennedy has extended his love of the four-panel format by creating his own company: Big Sexy Comics. After a few years of toiling under the indie umbrella, he joins the ChapterHouse family. Heartiest congratulations!!! I find it humorous that three days ago Fred posted on The Edge’s website for his listeners to buy the upcoming official release of this book, pleading with them and promising his undying love.
Mr. Kennedy puts a very ‘human’ spin to this first entry. The varying narration reminds me of Babylon 5 with its incorporation of science and religion. The two daringly different domains can share the same space in this plane of reality. Mr. Kennedy immediately introduces the main players in media res. Things will be brought to light in successive issues. I will say this: even though the inhabitants of the Third Planet seem to be the focus here, I do not wish to see the extraterrestrials portrayed negatively. There are bad apples far and wide in this universe. Humanity is no exception.
The power of belief clashes with cold hard facts. The unexpected crash-landing of the Lightstorm seems to be pre-destined, from the Foon’s perspective. An unseen hand figure has a more fitting fate for Ixandra. Henzi’s dichotomy of warrior-monk enriches his character. Goswynn does not seem to be tyrannical, but rather tender.
Miko Maciaszek is a Polish-born Canadian. He immigrated to the True North at the young age of six.
Even though I had never heard of him, he is now in my sights. Mr. Maciaszek is extremely productive and prolific. He has a Tumblr account and has been hitting the circuit for the last few years.
I’m horrible at judging art. I don’t want to do any disservice towards Miko. Here I go! I have come across an interview where Miko mentions in detail the various tools at his disposal: acrylic, ball-point pen, dull pencils, India ink, and Photoshop. EEK!! I’ve got my work cut out for me! Many more illustrations can be viewed here.
Establishing the setting is always important. The Lightstorm’s entry into the atmosphere is invasive. Goswynn’s vessel approaching harbour marries the ancient and modern worlds.
Ixandra’s walkabout has vitality. James’ recurring dream is safe and serene. The Foon’s surroundings are extremely simple, contrasting their enemies’ environment. The brave new world upon which Sgt. Edwin is set to explore is indeed strange and foreign.
The eyes always have it. Capt. Borchek’s are translucent and distant. I’m not sure if they’re cybernetic implants or due to years of oppression. Either way, it’s quite apparent that he has been affected by his ordeal.
Even though the layout is in traditional perfectly-squared panels, the renderings within are kinetic, intense, and placid. The pencils are easily distinguishable providing clear outlines of the people, places, and things. Brush strokes take care of the background. Miko is extremely meticulous of the minutiæ. I’m extremely appreciative of the action scene.
This opening chapter truly is an aesthetic marvel. The visual carries more weight. The two gentlemen collaborate extremely well and effortlessly. I give this book 7 out of 8 [87.5%] in honour of our eight planets.
Personally, I’ll go to my local comic shop and pick up the two covers as well as this blank:
It’s a given that my fave comic store supports all local talent ^_^