Skyward #12: Flying Once More (Now With Floating Dogs)

by Richard Bruton

Last issue of Skyward, the first part of the “Fix the World” arc (reviewed here) felt like a misstep, that Henderson had done the easy thing with a new character and taken misdirection too far with the reveal of Willa’s dad’s mission to fix the low-G problem. Thankfully, I stuck with it, as issue 12 picks up the pace, gets us back on track, and we’re back to a brilliantly delivered adventure once more.

Another oh so good cover from Lee Garbett there – I’ve always been a sucker for those so much action going on it’s enough to break the cover apart type things

So, we’re 12 issues in and we’ve found out who the mystery stranger is and just what Willa’s dad was working on. And I wasn’t keen on either of those. But, in issue 12, Henderson takes us right back to the beginning, before G-day and tracks the last 20 years of the stranger’s life, complete with her new companion – the dog she calls ‘Stranger’. The joy of a floating dog, or him getting warned off playing in the low-G water… all made better with the explanation from Henderson of just why the dog’s here and pictures of the life model who, graciously, posed for Garbett!

And yes, I’m still being spoiler free, even though it was all revealed a month ago, because some of you will be reading Skyward in trade or just read your monthlies in a block. And anyway, a review that just gives you a blow-by-blow account of the entire comic isn’t a review. So let’s not.

Firstly, Lee Garbett’s artwork is always a joy to see. It’s, genuinely, joyous, a lightness of tone runs all through it, the sort of thing you find every so often, an artist who creates pages that are both creative and have flow, whose figure work allows exaggeration yet still looks naturalistic.

And, of course, going back to the events of G-day does mean there’s the chance for a couple of spectacular double pagers, with Garbett going crazy with the upside-down world…

But, in terms of where the storyline’s going, and I know I’ve said it before, but this really has turned into The Walking Dead with low-gravity as the zombies. Just as the zombies aren’t the real threat, the low-G is a secondary danger; it’s the people you’ve got to watch out for.

So, given that Henderson’s used to writing for TV, is it a surprise to find some familiar TV ideas cropping up here? The reintroduction of long-lost cast members, the discovery of a new outpost, allowing the writer to expand the storyline.

Which is where we are here, with Willa discovering another outpost of humanity, one that’s been sealed off ever since G-day, one that that mysterious stranger had been safe and secure in, until a few days ago where they heard Willa’s name on the (forbidden) radio.

Now, last issue, I was a little harsh on Skyward, bemoaning that, just maybe, it had lost its way, just a little. The mysterious stranger and the reveal of Willa’s dad’s secret seemed all a little too convenient and obvious. But… but… but… I’m going to have to walk that one back. Because, that misstep aside, the book is back to delivering everything I love it for; the lightness of the adventure, the speed of it, the strong characters, and the innovation of the weird science – little things again – such as the tears on the mysterious strangers face that don’t fall, they pool – a beautiful, unassuming little thing that is just marvellous.

But, I’ve also decided there’s no point thinking it should have gone a different way. Reading issue 12, I realised that the way it’s playing out is still delivering a really fine, really fun comic.

Skyward. It’s a TV show in comics form. This might be a good thing, might prove difficult in time. But, right now, it’s still a damn fine comic experience.

Skyward Issue 12, Fix the World part 2, written by Joe Henderson, art and cover by Lee Garbett, colors by Antonio Fabela, letters by Simon Bowland. Published by Image Comics.

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