First Impressions – WOMANTHOLOGY: SPACE #1

Womanthology is a project created by various female comic creators of various skill levels, who submit short stories that are collected into a graphic novel. The first such graphic novel was Heroic: A Womanthology, which was notable also for being funded entirely by kickstarter. Now IDW is releasing a five part miniseries to be collected into the next graphic novel. Today we look at WOMANTHOLOGY: SPACE #1. It’s Womanthology…IN SPACE!

As you can tell, I was trying to lead into that last line the entire opener.

WOMANTHOLOGY: SPACE #1 contains five stories. The first is “Waiting for Mr. Roboto” by Bonnir Burton and Jessica Hickman. A waitress at a space diner longs for a man in her life. But not a robot. She’s not robosexual.

Or is she?

It’s got decent art, but it seemed like the plot resolution could have used more space to work itself out. Not the romance plot, I’m talking about the potential fight scene with some robot cops that ends in exactly one page. Then again, given the length the creators have to work with it’s not bad. I shouldn’t even really be complaining about length given the format. Contributors to Dark Horse Presents deal with this kind of page restriction all the time.

Next is “Dead Again” Sandy King Carpenter and Tanja Wooten. A man sent to demolish an abandoned space station is haunted by the spirit of a woman. A dead woman, obviously.

It’s a simple ghost story based on the atmosphere of not having an atmosphere in space. It’s kind of creepy. But the end kind of breaks the atmosphere when the ghost goes from scant appearances and maybe flashes of speech to an entire monologue. Ends on a fitting note though.

“Scaling Heaven” by Alison Ross and Stephenie Hans is set in 2040, where the US and China are in a race to go back to the moon. It depicts two women, one on each side, as they prepare for the time when they can go up.

First of all this is a beautiful piece. It reminds me a lot of Dexter Soy’s work on Captain Marvel (coincidentally also a comic about a woman going into space, among other places).

Definite cold war analogue here, as two rival nations aim to be first to the stars. I especially like how the story takes a more realistic view on humanity’s space prospects; that as much as we’d love to be bopping around the galaxy looking for alien babes and monoliths, at best it’ll take a couple decades before anyone’s ready or willing to dump a fortune just traipsing on the moon. If in fact we ever bother going to the moon again, given how ultimately pointless it was from a practical standpoint.

Now I’m depressed. Always trouble for a fan of SF to have to look at what’s scientifically possible.

Luckily we next have “The Adventures of Princess Plutonia” by Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire. It’s a straight parody of old-style Flash Gordon era space operas, with space adventurer’s wielding laser pistols, and fights with evil alien empires. But the adventurer isn’t some Earth hunk. It’s the titular Princess herself who does the fighting.

The Earth hunk is the damsel in distress. Complete with a loincloth and nothing else on.

I loved this story. It’s the kind of non-serious space-hopping adventure that basically drove the SF genre for years. Got more boys to think about space travel than anything those dumb guys over at NASA ever did.

Oh wait, I just got finished talking about how great the realistic depiction of space flight was. Whatever, Princess Plutonia’s adventure(s) was/were still awesome.

Lastly we have “Space Girls” by Stacie Ponder. It’s about a captain of a crew of an all female mining crew. I think the captain is male though, so he gets all the space girls. Anyway, the eponymous Space Girls plus captain bop around looking for planets to mine and amazing space things to see.

Then things get positively catastrophic. You’ll get the joke if you read the comic. And then you’ll hate me.

Space Girls was hilarious in that it didn’t take its premise at all seriously. It even makes a Star Wars reference. It uses a simple art style that really works here. It helps it could squish things down to fight the entire story in two pages. As with the entire format of this book, there’s an art to telling a complete narrative in a condensed period. Anyone can create a sprawling epic over the course of ten years. It takes talent to make pretty much any kind of plot in two to six pages.

If I had to rate which was my favorite, I’d say “The Adventures of Princess Plutonia” or “Space Girls” were my favorites, and that “Waiting for Mr. Roboto” was the weakest story. Though it did make a middle ground between the hyper realistic art styles and the simpler art styles, which is great for a first story in the issue, as well as the first in the entire graphic novel.

And yes, this is only the stuff we’re starting off with. We’ve got four more issues to come. Even if for some insane reason you couldn’t find even one of these stories to your tastes, there will be plenty more creators vying for your attention and waiting to impress you. Which is why I highly recommend buying WOMANTHOLOGY: SPACE #1 and all subsequent issues; both because of its quality and simply out of principle. The works of female comic creators and budding talent alike need to be encouraged. It’s how we change the industry people.

If that’s not enough, hope over to the Womanthology blog to further your support. Me, I’ll go back to reading some manlier fare until the next issue.

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