Escape From Terra

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Original review author: Gryphoneer and Izzus
Webcomic name: Escape From Terra
Author: Sandy Sandfort
Start Date: September 26, 2008
End Date: July 7, 2012
Genre: Hard Sci-Fi, Anarchist Propaganda
Defining Flaw: Straw man villains, unbelievably successful good guys, and endless wall of text style exposition.

Rating Summary
Art: Wiki.pngWiki.png

The art almost looks professional at first, but a second glance shows many flaws such as awkward faces and, most prominently, a schizophrenic nigh-constant change from one art style to another.

Storyline: Wiki.pngWiki.png

While the story arcs get better, it still has persistent problems which make it almost painful to read.

Characters: Wiki.png

Mary/Gary-Sues, plot armor everywhere, bratty children, very few rational people, and straw men. Didn't I mention straw men in the defining flaws? Yes, I did. They're everywhere in this comic. If you see a bad guy, it's going to be a straw man. Anyone who supports the main characters in any way is often regarded as an intelligent individual, but otherwise the villains are all just hollow, irrational punching bags meant to give the story some sort of conflict.

Miscellaneous Details: Wiki.png

This comic loves its exposition. It also loves to ignore any media which occurred between now and the time that this comic takes place in.

Overall: Wiki.pngWiki.png

It could have been a great comic if it acted like a comic and had good characterization.



Background

While Gryphoneer was browsing io9, the sci-fi/pop science/superhero comics shill/whatever-garners-the-most-clicks site that in spite of its poor signal-to-noise ratio features some good stuff from time to time, they came across a post about a scifi webcomic.

Following it back to its source, it turned out to be the brainchild of Big Head Press, a supplier of ham-handed agitprop publisher run by a bunch of Libertarians. Instead of that other thing, Gryphoneer picked this jewel, though, for it easily out-crazies the other stuff there if only because they're mostly ol' print comics put online.

Gryphoneer then began writing the review to this comic, but never finished. And thus, it was left to me to finish the review. After spending weeks grinding through the almost 1000 page comic, I've gotten a good idea of what exactly is wrong with this damn thing.

Downfall

Well, to be honest, it actually got better over time, but it still failed horribly in its attempt to be a good comic. The point at which the most infuriatingly persistent problems shat all over everything like a fat man on a diet of nothing but cheese and laxatives is here, where the comic's author shows that he only researches things when it's convenient, he shows that he can't write a decent bad guy, and they introduce what I feel is one of the worst villains in any webcomic ever. Yeah, you know those crappy big bads who want to destroy the world because, well, fuck it, they can? This guy kicks their asses at being uninspired cannon fodder for the heroes. More on him later.

Tract- err, I mean Plot

This is a long one, if you want a summary then read this and skip to the next section: Idiots and Mary/Gary-Sues love Anarchy. The UW (I think it's supposed to be an analogy for the UN) is crumbling and corrupt. The solar system is full of people who hate them, especially the Anarchists. The Anarchists engage in Anarchist hi-jinks and act like fools. Nobody is smarter than them either (despite having an almost perpetual rationalistic paucity), so they always win and everything is always okay. The story arcs themselves might be good if they weren't structured around the champions of implausible success rates.

It's the late 21st century and... Holy Manifest Destiny! The UN, favorite boogeyman of many a group of conspiracy nuts, has conquered the world! ZOMG New World Order! Damn them and their highly efficient decision-making processes!

Luckily some brave Anarchists fled the world that nurtured them under a considerable expense of resources and their responsibilities towards their fellow human beings the yoke of the nefarious abomination that is a united humanity. Because everyone knows that running away from corruption is better than making an effort to fix it.

But you know what's, like, a bitchtillion times more heinous than an Earth at peace and free of ethnic segregation? Right, taxes. BOO! HISS! TAXES ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!1!

Sadface.jpg

So our initial POV character is, of course, a revenue officer in best Poisoning The Well tradition. Speaking of which, he's portrayed as an effete, discontent wimp with daydreams of heroic mass murder his only escape from the drab, non-Anarchist dystopia he's living in. And he's French, pencil mustache inclusive (pictured right). His name is Guy, pronounced "Ghee", because he's French.

Watcha sayin'? A united Earth doesn't really strike you as dystopian? Hah, think again, buddy. I mean, in this case it's corrupt and has bestowed inviolability upon powerful gangster businessmen, presses out the juice of the middle class like a grapefruit, employs *GASP* office drones, enforces regulations that are either ridiculously stupid or ridiculously invasive, and it's also ignorant to the fact that certain employees are disrupting work productivity in order to emphasize the point that they're incompetent and baddily-bad and non-Anarchist and an authoritarian surveillance state. Such is the eventual fate of everything non-Anarchist. GRRR FUCKING NON-ANARCHISTS.

You just gotta love fiction that bashes you over the head with the political conviction club and leaves the splinter stuck, don't you?

Because the inept Non-Anarchists crashed and burned the economy (and because blahblah fat cats with powerful friends blabbedity blah Non-Anarchist cronyism blah open your eyes sheeple), Ghee's Guy's mission, to ensure the law is observed rob the brave Anarchists of the wealth only they are worthy to possess, is of vital importance.

Naturally, the Anarchy depicted in this comic does considerably better than other, real life Anarchies, so Wimpy McFrogeater and another tax SS officer one of the Mary-Sues of the story who looks like a supermodel (awwwright) are sent to marvel at Ceres' wonders and set up tax enforcement- err, I mean "bring them in line". Sounds more sinister that way. But not before Wimpy has to serve as a good little straw man and menace kewl rebel Crewman Avery Awesomehair with a tax audit (THAT FIEND!).

It's not long before they're absorbed into the collective Anarchy hive mind of everlasting perfection. First, the Mary-Sue joins (of course she joins first, she's the one of the Mary-Sues and therefore must "see the light" before anyone else is converted), then Guy after he returns to Earth and gets reassigned to keep an eye on Ceres because, somehow, the people on Ceres found a loophole in some sort of document which would cause the BIG BAD GOVERNMENT to owe them money.

Yup, the reason Guy goes back is because his superiors were too stupid to create some sort of legislation or fine or hell, anything at all which would counter this claim despite the fact that they have a planet's worth of lawyers on their side. He becomes an accountant for one of the Gary-Sues, Reggie- the black reverend who debunks paranormal activity, is a good theater actor, and listens to "classic music" (i.e. music from our time). Then, all hell breaks loose. The comic takes a nose dive.

Here we introduce our first real villain of the story, a direct descendant of Arthur "Bomber" Harris. He doesn't act rational, he doesn't try be a balanced individual, he doesn't even give any impression of why he's an admiral (which is the top ranking officer in the navy, so realistically they hardly see any combat. In fact they hardly ever, if at all, command their own ships. Admirals are nothing more than desk jockeys who try to make sure that shit doesn't hit the fucking fan). And so, by introducing him as the descendant of a criminal, the author apparently wants you to be against him. There is no clever writing here. It's just “He's descended from a bad guy, therefore he is a bad guy himself.” And the reason he shows up? It's because the uninspired maladroit governm- oh, excuse me, THOSE DASTARDLY UW POLITICIANS responded to Ceres' claim for their cash with a show of force, because POLITICIANS ARE BIG SMELLY DOO DOO BRAINS WHO ALWAYS RESORT TO WAR AS A FIRST RESORT.

Mr. Straw Man Big bad Admiral Harris (who, from what I can tell, has no right to be an admiral in any time or setting and how he got there in the first place is a fucking mystery), just up and kills a few civilians for no reason. BIG BAD GOVERNMENT, BIG BAD MILITARY, HERP DERP. He says on the news that Guy is either dead or taken hostage by the Anarchists, so what does Guy do? He doesn't tell the media he's all right, he doesn't talk to Harris when he has the chance, he just does nothing. What a hero! Taking no action like that, he's definitely someone to look up to.

Also, this is why I say Harris is an incompetent fool and whoever put him in charge is a fool too. They even acknowledge this in the comic. Straw man government, straw man villain. Look, I don't hate Harris, I hate the fact that someone thought he'd be an interesting antagonist.

"Killing civilians? That's a promotion.
Killing them in horrible ways? That's a promotion.
Being an emotionally destitute and unloving piece of shit? That's a promotion.
Earning a nickname nobody would be proud of? Fuck it, that's a pay raise and a promotion.

So Mr. Incompetent orders someone to kill a family of people. The weapons guy disagrees, but complies because, hell, why not? That's all the villains ever do in this comic, they just do shitheaded crap to people.

Then we see this kid die, and it's heavily implied that we're supposed to care. However, there's a retardedly palpable issue with this. You see, this kid did nothing in the comic to earn the reader's sympathies. The kid was nothing but a jackass the whole time. His personality consisted of nothing more than pissing everyone off. Good riddance, I say.

So, moving on, Reggie straps a nuke to himself and tries to deliver it to The Compulsive Admiral via a transport vessel sent by said admiral, but their bomb detectors detect his bomb and he's grounded in the ship before they even close the damn hatch.

Here's where you might say "Hey, I thought you said they never lose!" To which I reply "Fear not, dear reader. There was another cunning scheme in the works!" Our Mary-Sue returns (in the form of deus ex machina) with a plan that could only work if she were a Mary-Sue. She just happened to know where the enemy blind spots were, their capabilities, what they can and can't detect, how their sensors work, when to strike, how many ships they'd need to pull the plan off, and didn't even need a backup plan because there was no way that this one could fail! What plot armor luck!

Harris is then detained and tried in a court which is stacked like gyro meat, then killed, live, in front of millions of people (broadcasted via a mid-90s camcorder, too). Because eye-for-an-eye always works as the end all solution to any problem, that's why it's the Anarchist way! Making a snuff film out of it and teaching children to kill is apparently also the Anarchist way.

But of course, everything is okay because of this. There is no political fallout from killing an admiral, no media sensation, no retaliation from the UW. There is only a story on how they re-purposed the flagship into a space cruise liner. Everything is peachy keen. On to the next story arc! ...Wait, you thought this would play a big part in the comic? Well, they mention it a couple of times, and the death of that jackass kid was apparently supposed to be some heavy shit, but otherwise this arc had no major impact on the story. This happens a lot in this comic, where major events will just be brushed off with only one or two mentions later on.

In the next arc, an empty character whose only purpose is to move the story forward comes by and offers an ice transportation job to Bert and Ernie, the two sons of Babette (BUT THE WHITE ONE IS ADOPTED, LOL ISN'T THAT SUCH A TURN OF EXPECTATIONS?). Mr. Move the Plot Forward is murdered and nobody on Ceres investigates his death because they're an Anarchy who has no police force/militia/whatever Anarchies use. But hey, there's no need to! Every resident on Ceres telepathically knows that this guy won't try to kill anyone else.

"I've made it easier for crazy people to kill innocents! That'll show the government what-for!"
Bert and Ernie get on with the job he gave them because they were paid in advance, and this leads them to a planetoid which despite all laws of physics has a black hole in its core (that is to say, they explain why it can be there, in excruciating detail, but not how it got there). With the water ice delivered, they meet the eccentric gazillionaire genius who invented their version of the internet called "the tanglenet", which is like the internet only more unsecured and better for coordinating crimes with.

The dude who killed that plot guy tries to get onto the planetoid but, due to a startling lack of information which professional assassins should have, he falls to his death. The gagillionaire talks endlessly about some shit they could have shortened into less than three strips, creams his jeans over Norman Borlaug, Bert and Ernie are detained and then released, and then that's it. End of this story. Not much information on who sent the assassin, but hey, he's dead now! It's unimportant!

And now we get to the part where the comic starts getting a little better. Reggie goes to Mars to debunk some paranormal crap. Someone's dead because of it, Reggie thinks it's murder. Reggie spends a night in the supposedly haunted area and hallucinates our resident Mary-Sue. She makes an effort to put herself in cheesecake mode, there's even cheesecake for xenophiles! He hallucinates some more, we see more cheesecake, he figures out what's causing the hallucinations, and then goes back to have an extremely long winded talk with some dudes about it. They figure out that it's a methane leak. One of the dudes even has a log which states this fact. Why don't they have emergency sensors which notify personnel about air chemistry imbalances? Well, if they did, Reggie wouldn't be able to solve the mystery! Also, Reggie apparently has a dark and mysterious past which we never learn about during the entire comic...

"I don't really want to keep this plot line going right now. I'll just do it later!"
Over 600 strips later: "Joe King? Who's that?"

This one starts off with people lamenting over the death of that jackass kid who died earlier. Guy enters the scene and talks to Babette about starting a finance company, which I personally would like to see. Future economics are interesting, right folks? Well, in any case, there isn't much more on that because we immediately jump to the Mary-Sue doing Mary-Sue things. She and Doris, her captain, encounter some folks from the UW who had a stake on the rock they found, but the Mary-Sue threatens them by turning her mining laser on the ones who found the rock. The two women continue to act like assholes and accost the hard working miners government's lackeys until they're scared off when the miners make a better threat. The rock turns out to be a Moai and then the women are led on an egg hunt for more strange rocks, in which they continue to act like assholes to the crew of that UW vessel. Are these really our heroes? I guess we're supposed to cheer them on because BIG BAD GOVERNMENT'S BIG BAD MINING SHIPS serve no purpose other than to be taunted at any chance our characters get.

So we are introduced to a crew of big-breasted women who call their ship Lust in Space (they never appear again, by the way) and they also join in on making the miners' lives miserable. All sorts of hoopla occurs until the Mary-Sue and her captain discover that the entire egg hunt was a hoax which was meant to advertise... A theme park in space. There, they are surprised to meet someone called Mysto (a shame I can't share their surprise), display bi-polar mood swings, pretend that acting retarded is a joke, and then we get a whole lot of NSFW material in which our Mary-Sue is shown to have implants.

The two women then do some pointless shit to give the illusion of character building, the cheesecake ends after thirteen pages (though this is not the last time that this comic employs such a thing), the author does his fanboy thing over Norman Borlaug again (seriously, Norm was a cool guy but this comic makes him out to be infallible or something), we get more cheesecake, and then the Mary-Sue becomes a lesbian. That's right, she and Guy, the French accountant, supposedly had a thing going on, but now she's a lesbian. They never mention this again. Guy never has a reaction to it. They never elaborate on the character relationships.

And then, BAM. In comes the dude who they harassed about the rock earlier. I have several particular problems with this because:

  • He's acting without any permission from his superiors
  • Harris was incompetent
  • The Navy is better off without him
  • Even if Harris was a dolt, the Anarchists didn't have to kill him. This is why killing him was a bad idea
  • Darling is an idiot because if he succeeds with this action it's likely to cause some sort of interplanetary turmoil

But, fortunately, we have Deus Ex Machina to take care of all our main characters' needs.

Okay, I think you get the idea. I have over 20 pages of notes on this comic, its story doesn't live up to the hype you may have heard about it. I'm not going to go any further than this. It could be good, it does get better, but it's laced with problems like a water bottle at a rave. If the author were to make his characters more human, write better antagonists, or quit with the whole "ANARCHY IS BEST" overtone, it would probably work. Later in the comic, they also jump around from one story to another in some kind of non-linear fashion. I feel as though the stories he want's to tell are pretty cool, but the way they're structured doesn't wok.

Art review

Faces.jpg

The first thing you might notice about the artwork is- by god, those faces. The heads often change shape too, but this seems to stop later in the comic. In the first link, if you scroll to the bottom panel, you'll see Mr. French sleeping. Or maybe not, maybe he's having an orgasm (he is spooning with two women, after all). Perhaps it's a mild case of constipation? Anyways, in the second link, again scrolling to the final panel, you'll see the Great Malleable Mouth showing off his mouth flexing skills to another Gary-Sue whom I have named The Errorless Equestrian, because by fuck, he's such an uninteresting gentleman cowboy (never seen that before, derp derp) that I had to make up my own name for him to remember who he is.

Malleable mouth.jpg
Ungh.jpg

This comic's art also seems to have a problem with drawing imperfect body types for women. It's not that they suck at drawing them, but they hardly ever draw them. In fact, I counted the total number of women who don't have supermodel bodies, and they total to a whopping 4 (yes, four) characters, only one of which has the privilege of having some influence on the story.

In this link, you might also notice something else which this comic employs to no end. There are many names for it; the void, empty environments, oblivion panels, Family Circus syndrome, etc. My preferred name, though, is: the Realm of Naught. In a good comic, the artist will try to draw the environments in every panel. Even (most of) the amateur comic artists will give a background to all their panels, be they poorly filtered Google images or poorly drawn gradient furniture. But for some reason this artist likes to stick it into random panels. A comic which updates five days a week can be done right, so a busy work schedule isn't any excuse, and I can't think of anything else which would logically constitute doing this. Let's just chalk it up to laziness and move on.

Speaking of laziness, the art also uses copy paste, mostly at the beginning. At least they stopped using it after a while, and until that point, used it sparingly, but not until the final instance on page 464. Hey, at least they didn't give into the temptation to use copy paste to its worst extent, and for that, I commend the artist.

But, this commendation is easily retracted due to the constantly changing art styles. In a comic, the art style should fit the genre and story. The reason for this is immersion. Comics are a visual medium, and as such, the visuals are the primary source of immersion. If you're going to change art styles, it should be for the reason of A) Getting better art to fit its setting, which leads to B) Greater immersion. When considering changing an art style, one should consider "Is changing the art for this setting necessary? Will it improve my comic? How so?" With Escape From Terra, though, it just keeps changing for what seems like no reason, as though there were some child going "I want that one! No wait, I want that one! Can I have that one too? I don't want that one anymore, I want this one now!".

It starts off with some kind of sepia/watercolor filter, and then segues to a drably colored version without the filter. Then it abruptly changes to a non-colored style which looks like it was sketched and then lightly inked. After the artist quickly lost interest in the sketch-style, they switched to the original style, only without the watercolor filter. A few dozen strips and one story arc later, they switch to a mix between the sketch style and the last one. And then, what do you know, a new art style! Apparently hard shadowing was the big thing this time around, but not for long since it once again segues into another art style, one which mixes hard shadowing with shading. Getting tired of all these art styles yet? Well, too bad! It just keeps happening again and again and again. Towards the end, you can't go two dozen pages without encountering a new art style. Experimenting is cool and all, every artist should refine their style, otherwise they wouldn't be a good artist. But really, shit like this just gets overwhelming.

Too many art shifts.jpg

Writing review

Okay, I think I covered the straw men which make up the villains during the plot review, and I seem to have covered the problems with most of the characters too...

I guess that leaves me free to talk about the other things I've noticed, most notably the fact that approximately every concept and scrap of information is extrapolated with mind numbing detail, sometimes going on for pages at a time. There's a little rule of comics which most sci-fi writers tend to follow, and that rule is "Show, don't tell". This comic's author seems to have been somewhat ignorant to that rule, because he even does it for character back stories. I guess that if you enjoy every little detail about everything then this isn't a problem, but there's a way to deliver it without being like "Want to know about something? No problem! All aboard the SS Exposition! We'll take you on exciting adventures where we analyze every piece of this comic's technology and social structure in vast detail!"

I mean, seriously, most of this stuff can be shortened down to one or two panels' worth of info. Take this one for example. Don't want to read it all? Read this instead: “I'm a man of power, and power corrupts. If I get out of hand, these people can stop me.” There. That's what they used four panels to say. Now, don't get me wrong, I like to know about how things work, but this is a comic. If you're not moving the story or building characters in at least one panel on a page, why not just leave it in a note or an encyclopedia on the about page? For comics, world building should be done in sips (interesting factoids), not gulps (overwhelming information). If all the explanations were shortened to stuff like this it would work, but instead the author almost always opts to fill pages and pages with fluff when a little blurb is all you need.

Speaking of information, I've also noticed how this comic likes to ignore it at times. Specifically, it likes to ignore any social media or major events which happened between our time and theirs, like everyone has a nostalgia boner for a time they weren't alive in or something. For instance, the theme park in space has a module for recapturing the feel of "Old Las Vegas". There are also mentions of "Old Los Angeles" and "Old Texas". But it gets worse. The "Hall of Giants" contains only major icons from our history instead of their history, there are no icons from any time between ours and theirs. They don't pay attention to anything other than Star Wars or Star Trek. It's not like it's that hard to make up an icon or new piece of media, even Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey did it in the opening scene.

There's also a whole lot of plot armor in this, as mentioned already. To elaborate: there's one point where a female criminal with an allergy to bartering and hair made of greasy vinyl is put into a juvie prison on the moon because the first prison she was in didn't have the proper amount of security monitoring (that means no cameras, sub-dermal gizmabobs, so-and-so sensors, things you'd expect in the future, etc.) When she goes into the juvie prison, we discover that they think it's a good idea to mix hormone ridden teenagers with the opposite gender, she gets called a noob by some dom bitch (PRISON SLANG OF THE FUTURE, FOLKS. USE IT NOW AND BE A TREND SETTER), and then she gets selected for rape by the pedophile administrator. We even get a good look at her nice fifteen year old body in underpants! Lo and behold, just as she enacts her plan to beat his ass with a stick, the vacuum and micrometeor resistant glass begins to crack because of a minor tremor. Then the pedo gets sucked out the broken window because the dull impact of his body apparently held more force than the vacuum pressure difference, micrometeors, and tremors, which gives the girl with plastic hair a chance to leave with her friend.

They don some space suits and expect nobody to notice that two extra suits are walking around… until the officials do a roll call, or ask where they're going, or check the ID tags which should be on every suit, or look at their faces, or they get into a situation where they have to talk and then someone hears their voices, or someone notices that holy shit, two suits are walking away, that's pretty fucking suspicious considering that we're in a penal colony. But of course none of that stuff happens. Hey, I mean, how could it possibly happen? She was carrying a clipboard through the crowd of personnel! There's no way she could have been caught. So then she and her buddy find some S&R dude and lie to him about their reason for being there, then when he rescues them, they tell the truth, and he just accepts it without question after hearing their stories, then proceeds to "rescue" them from a broken judicial system THE BIG BAD GOVERNMENT.

Want to get past security? Bring a clipboard or a shovel with you. You don't have to act the part or talk to anyone or anything, just walk on through! Nobody will be the wiser, and you will be left free to do whatever shenanigans you please.

And that, my friends, is plot armor of Superman caliber. The protagonists in this comic hardly ever fail. When they do fail, it is quickly made up for through half-assed deus ex machina. The last protagonist to be killed off permanently was the jackass kid from earlier in this review, and we didn't even know him beyond how much of a bratty shithead he was. I guess technically the last protagonist to die is actually this guy, but he was brought back to life with some useful, life saving technology which was banned by the UW for no reason. And the person who killed him? It's the girl in that same strip. She was sentenced (by a court and a judge that they conveniently didn't use to convict the Aberrant Admiral) to work for him because she killed him by accident, but put him into the autodoc when she realized this.

Hell, not even the Anarchy fails. It follows the the Mary-Suetopia cliché down to a tee. The comic doesn't even elaborate on how it conquered problems like: child pornography (gee, thanks tanglenet), the drug trade, terrorism, crazy dudes appearing out of nowhere with a bomb, equivalent education benefits, poverty, cyber crime, identity theft, fire and hazard extermination, or minor crime prevention. But hey, they don't exist in this Anarchy! Oh wait, they do. There's just nothing to prevent them from happening, the people in the Anarchy just assume that everyone who comes to live on Ceres is automatically going to be a good person. Anarchy sure is great, huh?

In case you haven't noticed, sometimes the characters don't even display any simple form of logic, and other times their actions are just confusing. This villain tells the Errorless Equestrian about her entire plan, despite the fact that she acknowledges everything is being recorded. Twice. This guy lets himself get stripped by the space equivalent of the Boy Scouts without so much as an objection. Frenchie asks for a combat blade and they hand him what I can only assume is a bistoury knife. The captain of this vessel wants to kill a few reporters in front of a ton of other reporters in his UW vessel. This guy wrestles a pig to get a job as a farmer (apparently that's the only skill you need to become one). This guy cheats at poker by slipping a card from his hand into his shirt sleeve, as though nobody would notice that he had one less card than he should. These guys only think to lower the Hz of their radios after announcing their plan while the bad guys were most likely listening in. See where I'm going with this? Most of the time their actions are irrational or confusing. The thing that gets me the most is that every good guy in this comic is portrayed as an intelligent individual, to whom the concept of fucking up is entirely alien. And when they do fuck up, everything is always okay, because in this comic no good person's faulty actions ever has a truly negative impact.

I have some sort of suspicion that this comic takes place in the Idiocracy universe because of this page, for three main reasons. The first is that people couldn't pronounce a simple word like "macroscian", the second is that guests were anal about the Earth being upside-down DESPITE THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO PLAUSIBLE WAY THEY COULDN'T HAVE KNOWN THE HOTEL WAS ON THE MOON'S SOUTH POLE, and the third is that politics somehow prevented the managers from pressing a button and changing their clocks to GMT+0.

Despite all this, the setting, by damn. I want to, but I can't say I hate it. I love hard sci-fi. I love technobabble. I love space, I love to see how people depict our future. You have to keep in mind that all this stuff took place over the course of an almost 1000 page comic, it's peppered throughout most, but not all, of the pages. But, and this is a bigger but than that of Kim Kardashian, you have to know how to write your medium in order to make your story truly good. You can't write a TV show script and use it as a playwright, you can't write a video game script and use it as a novel, and you can't write short stories and use them as comic scripts. Every story in every medium has to be written specifically for that medium, it hardly ever translates well when you switch them around. This comic is an example of what I mean.

Sandy Sandfort, the main author, wrote a bunch of prose-like short stories which were then transcribed into comic scripts, usually by Scott Bieser. There's a problem with this, because at the bottom of every page is a transcript of one part of the original story. And you know what? They make the actual stories seem like they'd be interesting to read. More so than this comic, at least. They didn't translate into comic format that well. The comic is in the vicinity of abhorrence, but turn them back into stories, and it's not nearly as bad (though it still has its problems no matter what medium it's in).

Author biography

Sandy Sandfort, as far as I can tell, is a dude who believes that big change is coming to the world- first for the worse, and then for the better. He's not a total in-your-face asshole about it, and from what I've seen, he doesn't preach endlessly about it. He only uses these stories to try and depict a better world free of what he sees is wrong with our society. Being of a similar cut of cloth, I can relate with this sentiment, and I don't think it's that bad of an idea. I do, however, find his expectations depicted in this comic to be a little too idealistic, if not unrealistic.

He has also written other comics which can also be found on Escape From Terra's website.

Conclusion

  • 1- What is the work's creator trying to do?
  • 2- How well do they succeed in doing it?
  • 3- Does the work successfully touch on the issues it presents, if any at all?
  • 4- Does the creator know what they are talking about?

The answer to these:

  • 1- Write a hard science fiction comic about an Anarchy on Ceres.
  • 2- Not very well, many characters are unrelatable and many details left unanswered, where others are needlessly elaborated upon. It would most likely be better suited in its original format, prose short stories.
  • 3- No, everything is one sided, in the favor of the protagonists.
  • 4- At some times, yes, at others, no. I'll give this one a 50/50.

This comic could be good if it tried to be more of a comic and less of a podium for wish fulfillment. It could be great if it weren't for the woefully impossible characters. I could be awesome if it didn't try to include tangent essays of every little thing we never needed to know.

It actually turns out that Sandy is no longer writing this as a comic. He is instead writing it as it originally was, prose short stories. You may e-mail him by putting PLUME in the message title (his email is on the Escape From Terra website). After you read the short story he sends you, you can reply with suggestions on how to improve his stories.

If you send him one of these e-mails, you can also (from what I can infer) request the old stories as well as the new stories he writes.

Links