New To You Comics #87: All Hope Is Lost In ‘Rogue Planet’

by Brendan M. Allen

Tony and Brendan have very different tastes in comics. Tony loves his capes, super powers, and sci-fi. Brendan tends to stick to horror, noir, and weird indies. Occasionally, their paths cross, but like most readers, they tend to stay in their own lanes.

New To You Comics is here to break up the pattern a little. Tony will throw some of his favorites at Brendan, and Brendan will hit Tony with some of his. Every NTYC title is brand new to one of them. Every once in a while a title will land with both of them. Most of the time they can find some common ground, but even when they don’t, it’s fun to watch them go at it. Brendan fights dirty. Tony kicks like a mule. 

This week, Brendan introduces Tony to Oni Press’ Rogue Planet, written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Andy MacDonald, colored by Nick Filardi, and lettered by CRANK!. Here’s what Oni says about the book:

‘The salvage vessel Cortes tracks the Lonely Orphan, a planet with no star system to call its own. Somewhere on this hostile rock is a payload fit for a king. To attain it, though, the crew of the Cortes must brave razor rock, poisonous vapors, treacherous footing, and…the most mind-numbing horrors imaginable.

Struggling to stay alive, they are beset at every turn by horrors from their own nightmares. Now, they have discovered that they are not alone on the planet, and the other inhabitants welcome them…as sacrifices to an elder god.’

Brendan Allen: So… funny story. I totally had this title screwed up in my head for another Cullen Bunn book. I had read this one before, but I don’t think it was ever in my review queue. It was bound to happen at one point or another, I guess, but this one was as big a surprise to me as it was to you. Now I have to think of what the other book really was, so we can hit that one, too. 

There are a lot of things I really like about this book. It’s like Alien and a couple of my favorite Doctor Who episodes got all mashed up with some awesome cosmic horror.

Tony Thornley: I’m a big fan of Macdonald’s (we’ve got one of his Marvel books lined up for November) so I was very excited for this book. We’ve usually seen eye to eye on Bunn too. This was a little bit Aliens and a little bit Lovecraft. It made for a fun read. 

Brendan: Cullen Bunn did a really nice job with the pacing of Rogue Planet. It’s a mystery, right up to the bitter end, exactly what’s happening on this cursed planet. You get little flashes here and there of the true nature of the thing, like in that opening sacrifice sequence, but none of it makes much sense until the very last chapter. And there’s no way to effectively fight when you don’t have any idea what you’re supposed to be fighting. The crew of the Cortes never stood a chance.

Tony: Yeah I really liked that the story was a mystery the whole time, despite the horror. You sometimes forget about it, because it has a great sense of tension. Then something would happen that would draw you back in. 

Brendan: I actually remember finishing chapter four when I was pulling the floppies wondering how in the hell this thing was going to wrap everything up in just the one remaining chapter. I was worried that we weren’t going to get a satisfying blowoff, but I needn’t have concerned myself. This is Cullen Bunn, after all. The dude knows his way around horror and sci-fi, and it worked out beautifully in the end.  

Tony: Yeah that ending came fast and furious but it worked. There were a few world building elements that could have gotten some more space, but overall it was a tight standalone thriller. 

Brendan: Andy MacDonald and Nick Filardi did something special here. The artwork is ominous and creepy as hell. The linework isn’t overly complicated, but there’s enough detail to easily differentiate between myriad species of dead aliens, and chunks of wreckage from hundreds of different races/planets/systems. Landscapes are simultaneously familiar and foreign. And that last monster? Lovecraftian nightmare fuel.

Tony: Macdonald is a chameleon for whatever type of story he’s telling. I love his figures, who are all angular in a way that’s unique to him, but you still get different body types, hair styles, etc. But then when he goes full horror, he embraces the grotesque and horrific. The tech looks great too. The implants reminded me of the Borg and when we learn the implants just run the body when people are in hyper sleep, the revelation clicks. It’s normal to them but creepy to us. 

And you’re right about the monster. Dude. 

Brendan: I did mention this is not an entirely original concept, and I think that’s part of the reason this story is able to be told in five chapters. There are elements we have definitely seen before, in movies like Alien and television series like Doctor Who (The Doctor’s Wife and Silence in the Library), but that turn and the final pop are something else. Well worth the price of admission, in my opinion. Where’d you ultimately land?

Tony: Yeah it’s full of tropes but it uses them really well. It’s like a tight two hour horror movie, with a distinct visual language and style. This is a great pickup for anyone looking for something a little different this spooky season! 

Brendan: Word. What’s up next from your queue? Are we sticking with the October horror theme?

Tony: We sure are! We’re going to cover some Appalachian supernatural horror, with Redfork by Alex Paknadel and Nil Vendrell from TKO Studios!

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