Friday, 11 March 2011

Guest Review: Rondal Scott III on Expansion Part One by Malachi Ward & Mat Sheean

In what marks Avoid the Future’s first ever guest post, we gave Rondal Scott III—the creator of the awesome Strange Kids Club blog—free reign to review the comic of his choice. Known worldwide as the man who puts the "goo" in "good taste", he didn't disappoint.

“Billions of years ago the universe was a smaller, denser place, teeming with intelligent life.”

Thus begins Part One of Expansion, a “three part epic science fiction comic” co-created by artists Matt Sheean & Malachi Ward, which sets out to explore just how vast the recesses of the universe can be through the eyes of two, estranged travelers. As collaborators, Sheean and Ward’s work seems to complement one another seamlessly with no single panel wasted or left unattended. Those familiar with either artist’s previous work will likely appreciate this subtly even more so as neither individual’s style takes precedence over the other.

Sheean and Ward waste no time tossing you into the thick of the story, opening with an in-progress space battle that features rockets hurled in all directions, ship panels explode, and bodies that are twisted- torn asunder by the inexplicable assault. It’s within this chaos that we meet our protagonists, Briggs and Turner, and it’s interesting to watch the chemistry unfold between the two as they forge headlong into the unknown (otherwise known as the A.T.R. or Abnormal Temporal Region).

It is within the A.T.R. that Briggs and Turner encounter a lost civilization, lead by a woman named Basilia, with some interesting outlooks on life that essentially set the stage for the main premise of an ever-expanding universe. What that means for the future of all existence is left unresolved by Part One’s ending, but it can be assumed that there is much more to be learned before the series final act. “Part One was mostly setting up the plot, so in Part Two we start to really get into the conflict,” said Ward in an earlier interview. “We also get to know Basilia and her people better. It all builds to the third part, where everything contracts.”

The writing follows suit with the art, providing a steady pace and fluid dialogue. If I had to choose one flaw it would be that acronyms are used without explanation (such as the one mentioned above). It would have been nice for a few footnotes to help make sense of them, but they compliment the book’s high-minded science fiction setup well enough that they only stop the story from being slightly less entertaining. For an independent production the overall book boasts some excellent quality. From its copper-toned cover to the masterfully applied grey washes that give each character a real sense of depth and life, Expansion is at two talented artists boldly going where only a few others have gone before them and they’re doing it with style. 

All Artwork © Copyright Malachi Ward and Mat Sheean
Expansion Part One © Copyright Malachi Ward and Mat Sheean

About Rondal
Rondal Scott III is a creative instigator who tackles each day with Red Bull-induced enthusiasm and is a self-professed Twitter addict. His obsession with horror movies and 80s pop culture inspired him to start Strange Kids Club in 2009 where his puppet persona geeks out on a daily basis. He is also currently Co-Editor of Fuel Your Illustration and a frequent contributor to the Bloodsprayer.

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