Let’s talk about a weird book.
For all its pulp-punk* sci-fi trappings, Space Riders is a story about redemption. Capitán Peligro’s explosive, profanity-laden hijinks are all in the name of regaining the respect of the Earth Interplanetary Space Force. With their respect comes the restoration of his command—and in Peligro’s own mind, at least, the approval of their founder: his father.
Peligro's search for approval is wrapped up tightly in candy-colored bombast. Space Riders, in both Fabian Rangel, Jr.’s story and Alexis Ziritt’s art, strikes me as a thought experiment: that each story beat, plot twist, and design element is right if it is cool. To be fair, it’s clear that more thought went into the book than that, but that’s its aesthetic. If you are familiar with Danger 5 or Kung Fury, Space Riders has a similar vibe—but on an interstellar scale.
The most distinctive element of this book is its art. Its pages look like they might have been found in a box in someone’s attic, in a notebook labeled, “Geometry,” in place of notes about hypotenuses and rhomboids. Its core images not only look like something a bored student would draw—Peligro’s space ship is a flying skull, for example—but the pages are dirtied up and worn. That is not an indictment of the book’s style, though; on the contrary, that sense of free imagination is integral to the book’s style and charm.
If you saw the Danger 5 and Kung Fury comparisons above and thought, “Yes, I want a comic like that but in space,” why are you even still reading? If not: this is a book that both clearly has a lot of affection for the aesthetic and earnest storytelling of a bygone day. It sees the excesses of that kind of storytelling as a vehicle for a very human story. That makes Space Riders a charming read, with visuals that feel imaginative and like they came from inside a time capsule.
*I looked up “pulp punk” to see if that is an actual thing, and as far as I can tell it only is in that there is a very popular image of the Daft Punk robot men in the style of Pulp Fiction. But I can’t come up with a better way to describe Space Riders.
- Space Riders, Vol. 1 (#1-4)
Writer: Fabian Rangel, Jr. | Artist: Alexis Ziritt | Letterer: Ryan Ferrier