It’s been some time since a brand-spanking, new issue of the Eagle Award nominated indie sci-fi comedy, Lou Scannon was available but, eeeh by gum, the gang are back with their seventh instalment, To Hull and Back. If you’re fortunate enough to already be familiar with this book then you know what you can expect and quite frankly you won’t be disappointed. To the uninitiated, you have here a golden opportunity to discover a series that raises your favourite sci-fi tropes to dazzling levels of ridicule, whilst still delivering the thrills and spills of galactic adventuring.
Issue Six concluded with the crew of the ‘Raging Hormone’ narrowly escaping from their nemesis, Captain Tarpa of the Galactic Coalition Police Force and a great bunch of Space Pirates. Lou finally obtained a reader for his mentor Dax’s data-pad, to gain access to the vital information it may possess. My assumptions as to how this issue would generally progress from here were satisfyingly blown away after a couple of pages. We find the crew in the midst of laborious ship-repairs, having sustained a trashed engine. Now, whilst this crew is a varied and entertaining bunch, suffice to say, their efforts are wonderfully hampered by gratifying levels of incompetence from the ship’s resident non-identical triplets.
From issue to issue, the artwork has been developing in style and progressing in it’s application to the extent that the tone for this series feels very much established. There’s a growing fluency here that really takes advantage of the opportunity for evocative characterisation, supplemented by moments of cosmic wonder. Yet, just as you think you might be settling into a groove, they deftly deliver the story-telling equivalent of a literary wedgie, undermining any premise which veers too close to sober-mindedness or introspection. Fun with a capital ‘F’!
So, Harris, Carter, Bampfield and the team have their fun, exploring the shenanigans of a broken-down spaceship, crew-members in mortal peril, and the clock counting down to that moment when all is lost. The banter/sniping between ship-mates, the mishaps and the prat-falls are, as in previous issues, a joy to behold. The writing is adeptly structured and delivered with an engaging verve. I was truly enlightened by the near forensic examination of the essential conflict between space-suit technology and bodily functions. Once I picked myself up off the floor, that is.
My favourite aspect of this issue however, is that the opportunity is taken to genuinely explore the backgrounds and motivations of a number of this rag-tag team; Crysta, the smart, sexy and brilliant pilot accompanying ship-engineer Earl, in his efforts to get them out of this mess, reveals the family traumas that led her to joining this misadventure. Equally, but in a more subtle and heart-felt approach, we learn something of Earl’s past and regrets. Once again, if you feel that we’re angling dangerously close to soul-searching, or any kind of melancholy for that matter, then think again! Gleefully, the rug is pulled out from beneath you, with a series of farcical exchanges between Lou Scannon and his bodyguard Vic and of course the titanic triplets!
So, what of the cliffhanger that I mentioned earlier, regarding Dax’s data-pad? What indeed! There’s a particularly cool scene where these fine raconteurs, finally opt to reference this crucial bit of narrative and send it up in a practically meta-textual manner. The storytellers know that you want to delve deeper into the ongoing mystery, and to be sure, they have plans. But for now, the time is taken after the rollercoaster ride of the first few issues, to get to know this motley crew a bit better. It’s a grand move. They’re upping their game with each issue and I recommend you tag along.
To find out more about Lou Scannon and perhaps even reward yourself with a pre-Christmas treat, go to LouScannon.co.uk