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World Reader: Dead Stars (Aftershock Comics, 2017; #1-6)

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Sarah sees dead people.  So she does exactly what anyone with her ability would do: she joins a space exploration mission so she can commune with dead aliens.  While the team may be able to find plenty of dead planets, however, all of the spirits that should be haunting them are gone—wiped out by an entity that is after her now.  With little evidence and skeptical teammates, it’s up to Sarah to figure out what this being is and how to stop it before it makes its way to Earth.

Despite its galactic scale and strange, paranormal sci-fi mystery, World Reader is is remarkably intimate and character-focused.  This is Sarah’s story, and the rest of her team is largely ancillary; in fact, the only other character Loveness gives us significant insight into is the interstellar Grim Reaper figure that Sarah is investigating.  Instead, he focuses on her grief, regret, and life among the dead—and the value of all of the losses she carries.

Juan Doe’s World Reader art is, in a word, stunning.  His figurework relies on bold lines and deep, inky blacks; it is expressive and energetic.  But his coloring is the stuff of a sci-fi phantasia:  deep, jewel-tone colors provide contras to his claustrophobic blacks, shimmering light holding off inky nothingness.

World Reader was a pleasant surprise: I expected a fun, sci-fi/horror/mystery mash-up, complete with encroaching monster.  Instead, Loveness and Doe have created a story about holding off oblivion, accepting death, and rediscovering the value of life’s experiences.  I couldn’t begin to tell you what comes next, but I can’t wait to find out.

Collected in

  • World Reader, Vol. 1: Dead Stars (#1-6)

Credits

Writer: Jeff Loveness | Artist: Juan Doe | Letterers: Rachel Deering (1-3, 5), Dave Sharpe (4, 6) | Logo & Book Designer: John J. Hill | Editor: Mike Marts

Runaways: Dead Wrong (Marvel Comics, 2008; #1-6)

Roche Limit: Monadic (Image Comics, 2014; #1-4)