Turns out the gig economy will be just as exploitative and dangerous on Mars as it is on Earth. Scout Comics' new series Redshift combines the pratfalls of generational woes with hard sci-fi in a very appealing new tale, and series creator H.S. Tak has it down to the science. We're so used to the fantasy and anything-is-possible side of comics that a story focused on the realism of an inherently fantastic situation doesn't feel real by default but requires the heavy lifting of storytellers who treat the material with respect. Tak takes The Martian and imbues it with pathos in an inherently political narrative that anyone younger than a Baby Boomer will relate to.
Set on Mars in the not-too-distant future, Redshift focuses on one Hellener Drake who works in the ice mines of the red planet after squandering a "purpose" that was assigned him previously. Called "Hellz" by his friends and family, he's stuck digging holes all day when the opportunity to lead a mission into deep space for another Earth presents itself to him. However, the guilt of his past weighs him down, while his superiors work towards convincing him his potential in the future is the key to survival. It's too early to say if it's all a scam, but anyone that grew up hearing about the necessity of a college degree only to be saddled with decades of debt will recognize this tune and realize this is just a dystopic space-future cover of that song.
Artist Brent McKee and colorist Sebastian Cheng bring the series' to life and make the dramatic landscape of the alien world pop. The science and space-themed environments seen in the book are where the visuals look their best, with the only fault on the artwork as a whole being depictions of the people within it. At any given moment if a regular person, sans any sort of space equipment, is set to appear in a panel it's a coin toss if they're going to look a bit... funny, with anatomy that doesn't always carry consistently from page to page or elongated features that are clearly off. These moments are distracting at the time but the momentum of this story and how the settings, ships, and science are made to appear make up for that flaw.
It's unclear where Redshift is going at its start, but by the time the building blocks of the world are established the pull of the narrative will certainly have its hooks in you. Tak's ideas in this story scratch the itch for a hard-sci-fi space comic, taking the physics and science seriously, while also offering some fantastical elements in space colonies and intergalactic travel that it doesn't feel like a "Nerds Only" read. The only thing slowing this issue down is inconsistencies in the artwork, but it's easy to overlook those with a story this interesting.
Published by Scout Comics
On May 26, 2021
Written by H.S. Tak
Art by Brent McKee
Colors by Sebastian Cheng0comments
Letters by Joel Rodriguez
Cover by Brent McKee and Sebastian Cheng