Spaceman: The Deluxe Edition by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso

On Graphic Novels:
Spaceman: The Deluxe Edition

Spaceman: The Deluxe Edition (Vertigo 2012) by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso

There are few graphic novel writer/artist teams as satisfying Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. From 1999 to 2009, they rocked the comic book world with the Eisner Award winning series 100 Bullets. In 2011, they did it again with Spaceman. For those who missed the issues at their local comic book store, DC imprint Vertigo has now released the collected Spaceman: The Deluxe Edition.

Named best science fiction comic of the year by io9’s Cyriaque Lamar, Spaceman begins in a post apocalyptic world where both sea and poverty levels have overwhelmed society. Former spaceman Orson, with his heavy bone structure, simian physique, and over-sized hands and feet, was genetically bred to live on Mars and help terraform it for Earth. But that was a long time ago, and in between flashbacks of his Mars days, he scrapes out a meager living on his small salvage boat plumbing the ocean for scrap metal to sell. Like the rest of humanity, Orson escapes the desperate conditions of his existence in “The Ark,” a reality program where orphans compete for the chance to be adopted by the show’s fabulously wealthy hosts.

Orson’s anonymous life crashes down around him when child star Tara, one of the lucky and adopted children, is kidnapped, and he finds her. A former star himself (back when the space program was popular), Orson’s engineered body makes him less than inconspicuous, particularly when the most famous missing child in the world is at his side. Hunted by various interested parties, Orson suddenly becomes a central character in the televised drama.

Michelangelo’s Pietà.

Portrayed as a monster by the reality show’s producers, Orson does everything he can to save the girl’s future even as his own past complicates his present predicament.

But the toughest challenge for any artist isn’t recreating a work, it’s creating something new that’s just as powerful. Spaceman is exactly that. Both artists break conventions, serve their characters cold justice, and punish the bad guys—but not necessarily the villains. Azzarello, known for his ability to write dialect, supports his world building a language that has decayed as much as the environment. Risso blurs the line between land and water, even as he highlights the stark line between the haves and have-nots, creating even more visual depth to what could have easily turned cliché.

Together, Azzarello and Risso reveal themselves to be more than amazing comic book creators. They are artist provocateurs, as surprising as Ai Weiwei but without the pottery shards. Spaceman: The Deluxe Edition will be a welcome work on any collector’s shelf.Isotropic Fiction Dingbat

Joseph Thompson’s work has appeared in several publications including Foreword Reviews, Greenman Reviews, and Aphelion Webzine.

Spaceman: The Deluxe Edition
Brian Azzarello (author), Eduardo Risso (Illustrator)
Vertigo (November 13, 2012)
ASIN: 1401235522

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