It’s been a little while since I have reviewed a comic book, and I get to review the second issue of the sci-fi adventure series 50 Signal, created by Nick Gonzo. The first issue served as an introduction to the life of an artificially-grown astronaut called Spaceman whose purpose in life is, well, to be an astronaut and explore the universe on behalf of humanity, accompanied by a sentient spacecraft that may or may not be organic. I’m still trying to figure that part out. Anyway, the second issue delves a bit more into the world, or rather universe, of Spaceman’s life and gives a bit more of a plot.
The issue starts with a poem written by Brad Ricca dedicated to Laika, the Russian dog sent into space but died during the mission. The poem is quite poignant, and reflects on the early, questionable uses of animals in space missions. But it also commented upon on the story presented in the issue. So in the first issue, Spaceman discovered a strange signal without the corpse of a giant alien, ventured through an out-of-place door and met a robot that had been expecting him. It turns out he and a variety of other astronauts and space explorers have all been drawn to a bizarre waiting room, and none aside from Spaceman have left it.
While Spaceman is perfectly cool with his purpose and life, the other astronauts, none of whom are named, are a mixed bag. Some seem completely out-of-whack with what they are doing and don’t even know what the atmosphere is. One is clearly in it for the fame and glory, another likes to impress the ladies, the robot guy may in fact be a Korean human who was left to go down with his own ship and abandoned by his crewmates, one guy hated having to be the media’s space mascot, and stuff like that.
The issue has some philosophical commentary in it, pointing out that people go into space to explore with the full knowledge they will be away from home for a long time and might not even return. The strange doors that lead to the waiting room also symbolises the prospect of daring to aim high and explore the unknown. All of the astronauts save Spaceman were overwhelmed or frightened by their purpose and now hide out in the room, but Spaceman refuses, willing to exit the room to explore the other side of the door. Thought that might have not been the best option since he falls straight down into the arms of a malevolent alien crystalline lifeform and it is up to his spaceship to save the day.
I do enjoy this issue a bit more than the first, since that was focused on setting up the universe, and this one delves more into the mind of Spaceman. He was a bit of a flat character in issue one, but is fleshed out a bit more and expresses excitement and enjoyment in his profession even though he was created for the job. The perfect employee, I guess. His spaceship is still a bit of a mystery whether or not it is alive. It definitely acts like it is alive, crashing into the waiting room through the tiny door to reach her master. There are also some glimpses into the secrets of the galaxy like technology suppressing the power of a black hole and unusual aliens. The ambiguously evil alien that attacks Spaceman proves to be an interesting character and looks like it might return in future issues based on the last bit of dialogue in the issue.
This was a very enjoyable issue to read. It has a nice art style, a little cartoony and looks a bit like it was drawn by a child. The dialogue is witty and funny, and the characters were all fleshed out even though all of them save Spaceman were wearing helmets hiding their faces. A very good, entertaining sci-fi comic, 50 Signal has a lot to offer and I look forward to reading more issues of it.
Have you read 50 Signal and what were your thoughts on it? Should there be more science fiction that explores the pros and cons of long-term space travel? Leave a comment below or on our Twitter feed.