While dead astronauts, dead civilians and a dead planet don’t make for an uplifting story, Astronaut Down is the beginning of what should be an interesting allegory for our own struggles with climate change. Some great artwork make the tale all that much more compelling.
You think your job is rough? Imagine being one of only a few million people left of Earth, then having to sacrifice yourself to save what’s left of the dying planet. That’s the premise, in part of Astronaut Down, a new series from Aftershock Comics.
The story centers a group of a astronaut candidates vying for a suicide mission to save the Earth. The planet has been overcome a kind of cancer – quantum mutations that have reduced civilization to 14 megacities worldwide. The mutations look like a flood of toxic sludge that kills anything it touches and his held back by a kind of next-generation shielding.
In this premiere issue from writer James Patrick, we meet Douglas, a candidate for the mission to save the Earth. We learn that time is running out of the planet, and this is likely the last attempt to save humanity. While Patrick’s promising script is light on details behind this apocalypse, he does create a very clear comparison between what’s happening in this fictional world and the climate crisis on our Earth. There is even a cult of science deniers who want Douglas to abandon his mission, calling the devastation a “cancer of our physics.” You get the impression, though, that there’s more to these would-be climate deniers than meets the eye.
All of this death and destruction gives artist Rubine ample opportunity to show off his talents – and he doesn’t let the reader down. From a fascinating main cover to images of a wrecked planet, Lupine’s artwork is both terrifying and compelling.
In addition to a cliffhanger, Patrick gives this initial issue a postscript – in reality a bit of backstory – through emails and presidential transcripts that are equal parts hilarious and tragic. Like the recent Netflix movie Don’t Look Up, this series seems to be telling us two different stories. Hopefully both will remain compelling.
Astronaut Down #1 will be available for purchase on June 8, 2022.