Skyward #3 Deep Dives Into A Low-Gravity World

by Richard Bruton

The hit series from Image Comics deals with a simple, but incredible premise… just what would happen in a world where gravity is suddenly a fraction of what it is now? Taking this as a starter, Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett are crafting something so great in Skyward.
As we get further into this series, there are still moments of ohhhh, of course… low grav!” coming at you, and credit to Henderson for exploring things so deeply. Here it was a panel where the big scientist/saviour type Roger Barrow and Willa are chatting, talking about the problems between him and her father when he tells her…

Water under the bridge. A phrase you probably wouldn’t understand.

And it’s so true, of course it is. A few pages earlier he’d been explaining the massive problems they faced in the aftermath of G-day, to which she thought he was talking about the magnetization project, that we’d seen in issue 2 used by city dwellers to attempt to maintain the normality they lost when the grav went low. But no, Barrow was referring to more pressing issues.

And that’s just the sort of background info that is really fleshing Skyward out, turning it from a great comic with a wonderfully different vision into something where we’re looking deeper into a different world, alien yet familiar. It’s those touches that will serve Skyward so well as we move past this initial, introductory storyline.
Everyone involved with Skyward is crafting something really fascinating here with a slow exploration of the issues facing the world. But it’s the seamless mix of fleshing out the background of the world with the incredibly fun, pacey tale of Willa that really makes this such a delight to read month after month.
[**Spoilers for Skyward #3 below!!]
As you’ve seen, Willa has sought out Roger Barrow to see if he can help with her father’s depression and despair that has kept him apartment bound since G-Day. Barrow worked with her father, and post-G-Day, it was he who led the world out from chaos, and it’s made him a very rich and powerful man. It quickly comes out that Barrow is far more concerned with getting to Willa’s dad for all the wrong reasons, and the frenetic escape from his building is a magnificently staged set piece with a real cinematic flair. Bennett handles these action sequences with such flow, and really captures the unnatural body language of the low-G world. And Henderson still manages to get both character progression and a great gag in, whilst Willa and her friend escape through the lift shaft…

But there is something I’ve got a problem with this issue. It’s all to do with the just too 2-D characterization of big bad villain Roger Barrow. It’s absolutely not that it was so darned easy to guess last issue; I already said that that didn’t spoil the fun of Skyward at all. And in this issue, I can buy that Barrow wants to find out where Willa’s dad is, I get that it’s important, I know he’s a bad man.
But having him do this… just seemed a step too far…

I’m not even talking about the violence on a young kid, horrible though it is.
No, I’m talking about how lazy it feels. It’s such a shorthand to have the big bad start beating up on people, but so far in Skyward, Henderson and Bennett have been so clever in introducing so many things about this world, and this sudden lack of subtlety really just grates against everything that’s so damn good with Skyward.
But, but, but… one false step across three genuinely excellent and phenomenally fun issues… I’ll live with it.
Skyward Issue 3 will be released on June 20th by Image Comics. Written by Joe Henderson, art by Lee Garbett, colors by Antonio Fabela, letters by Simon Bowland.

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