Hench-Sized Comic Book Reviews – 5/23/20
Comics are still working their way back into our lives, with bigger and fancier release dates promised in a couple months. For now, I’m making due with what comes out that I actually want to read. This week, none of my usual comics came out. And I didn’t feel like catching up on all five issues of Hawkeye: Freefall.
So I checked out the second issue of Lost on Planet Earth from Comixology Originals! And I didn’t care for it. It’s got all the makings of a good comic, but the execution is failing me.
Meanwhile, what else am I doing? I finished a reread of Batgirl of Burnside after buying up all the tpbs. It’s still good, and I’m enjoying her arrival in the Harley Quinn cartoon (which is amazing!). She-Ra and the Princesses of Power delivered an awesome finale. Solar Opposites was pretty good. And I didn’t care for Scoob! And that’s my quarantine life!
Comic Reviews: Lost on Planet Earth #2.
Lost on Planet Earth #2
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Claudia Aguirre
Letterer: IBD’s Zakk Saam
I reviewed issue #1 of this series a couple weeks ago, so I might as well stick with it for now! Though I still feel like this series could be so much more.
A week has passed since Basil Miranda panicked and ran away from the entrance exam for the Interplanetary Fleet. She has spent that week hanging out with the new friend she met at the end of the first issue, Velda, an alien hipster punk who has been introducing Basil to, I guess, the regular world. She brings Basil to meet her friend Ethne, who is organizing a protest against the upcoming graduation. Meanwhile, Basil’s best friend (and maybe more), Charlotte, finally stops by to confront Basil on ghosting her all week, considering they’d planned to spend the rest of their lives together. Charlotte doesn’t want to hear any of Basil’s weak excuses about what she’s doing now and eventually storms out, both of them in tears.
Also meanwhile, Basil’s parents are confused as to why she took this route, her father especially. Basil’s younger sister, who is constantly playing VR video games, suggests inviting Velda to dinner to get to know her better. The dinner doesn’t go well. Velda is bluntly vocal about how she’s none too happy that Earth and the Star Union are going around and basically assimilating other planets and cultures, including her own. And Basil’s dad insinuates that is is “unseemly” and “strange” that two adult women spend so much time together.
Basil storms out. She’s beyond stressed. Velda comes to talk to her and says that Basil needs to figure out what she’s really upset about, because it might be her interest in women? I think. Anyway, Velda takes off.
Comic Review: 5/10 – Alright.
I don’t know whether or not Lost on Planet Earth is a mini-series or a planned ongoing, but these first two issues read like the creative team doesn’t have much time. Like they’re cramming everything they can into these opening chapters rather than letting the comic and characters breathe. And I get it. That probably happens a lot in indie comics. But man, this series could use some more room to breathe. It also feels like a comic that would have worked better as a full graphic novel, read all together. Because I’m just not finding much to latch onto in these single issues. All the pieces are there for what feels like a good story, but the execution is not winning me over. It’s like I can see and feel how the pieces should be used, how they’re intended to be used, but they’re not being used that way.
For example, the title of the comic is “Lost on Planet Earth”, but we still don’t have any idea what planet Earth is like. The bulk of this issue again takes place at the Miranda homestead. What few glimpses we do get of the outside world in this new future seem pretty standard. There’s going to be a military graduation, and some counterculture punk types are going to protest. Seems pretty ordinary.
But I didn’t get any real sense for why Basil is going along with the protest. She and Velda seem to have good chemistry, but we don’t get a lot of time of just the two of them hanging out and connecting. Velda immediately hooks Basil into this protest movement and introduces her to Ethne. And I kind of get the sense that all of this is moving too fast for Basil, that she’s just going along to get along. But that attitude doesn’t feel based in anything. I don’t understand why Basil would want to protest the graduation. The creative team even sets up this excellent scene at the family dinner to explore Basil and Velda more, but that scene is mostly used so that Velda can explain why she wants to protest the graduation. Then that scene takes a swerve with the dad suddenly insinuating it’s not OK for two adult women to hang out together.
So then the comic is now about Basil coming to terms with her sexuality? I guess I took it for granted that the future would be cool with LGBTQ+ relationships. The comic hasn’t really talked about it much, at least not until the dad got all squeamish about the idea at dinner. Then the final talk between Basil and Velda reinforces this, but in a weird way. Velda specifically points out that Basil seems worried about Ethne for some reason. So, like, is Basil into Ethne? Why not be into Velda? I thought that’s why Velda exists. Unless they’re setting up an extra wrinkle, where Velda thinks Basil is into Ethne? To say nothing of the clear subtext that suddenly exists between Basil and Charlotte.
I’m putting way too much concern into this. It’s just that I want to like this comic. The characters and the world seem fun and well set up. The writing is good and the art is great! But the execution is running me around in circles. What is this comic about? Is it about this young woman suddenly finding herself adrift in this cool future Earth, like I’d been led to believe? Or is it about this young woman having a hard time realizing that she’s into women, which feels like it comes out of nowhere, and doesn’t seem to have much to do with this cool future Earth? Is it a combination of the two, even though I don’t think enough work has been done to equate the two?
TL;DR: Lost on Planet Earth seems like it wants to be a relationship drama and a character study, but it’s focusing more on the big, dramatic moments than it is on building the characters and the foundations that would give those moments their drama. It’s in a rush, and is rushing past necessary character and world-building steps.