I love a great science fiction comic. Been a big fan of the genre since I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Enterprise heading to brave new worlds and discovering new life is a very romantic story. I’ve had soft spots for space stories ever since. So when I asked Another Dimension Comics in Calgary to recommend a great trade paperback, they recommended Sentient, a space odyssey like no other I’ve read.
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Gabriel Walta
Publisher TKO Publishing
Sentient is the heart wrenching coming of age story that I never knew I needed to read. It begins with a colony ship The USS Montgomery headed towards new territories. After entering the Dark Zone where no communications could be heard, a terrorist attack from within kills every adult on the ship, leaving the children and the AI Valerie to somehow make it to the new colonist ship.
The three main characters of the story are Isacc, whose mother did the terrorist attack, Lily, the oldest and the leader of the children, and Valerie herself. Part one sets up the premise of the rest of the story as you see the terrorist attack and the consequences thereafter. The children are forced to grow up real fast as a result of said incident. Valerie is forced to be the parent of the children, teaching them how to survive, all the while trying to deal with things well outside its programming.
Probably the most profound moment in the early part of the story is Val deciding to send all the adults off into the vacuum. This instance creates a hell of a bond between Val and the rest of the ship as the children are forced to deal with the fact that their parents are gone, and it allowed them a moment to grieve what was lost. It also created a bond between the children and the ship that carries over for the rest of the story.
Isaac (named after Asimov I wonder?) has to come to terms with who his mother was, as well as somehow finding a new place in the crew. Of the three main characters, I feel his arc is the longest. He becomes the engineer of the ship and goes from the one kid everyone is afraid to trust to possibly being the savior of the children in the end.
Lily is a brat is the rebellious one of the crew. Far and away the most gifted of the children, Lily and Val constantly argue about what she is capable of doing versus what is safe. Very much a parent, child dynamic. Both grow from each other, as the refueling stop leads the children into the greatest danger of all. Another ship, another intelligence is after them, and it’s up to everyone still aboard to survive.
As for Val – Val the ship grows far beyond her programming. What she’s supposed to do and listening to her crew is a struggle that she has to overcome. I don’t know if artificial intelligence will ever have a soul. That question is far beyond what I know, but if machines possess a soul, let them be one as courageous as Val.
This story is incredible. Jeff Lemire crushes this story. Putting his main characters in situations far beyond what any of them were capable of at the start, each of the characters feels like a child you know and love. Jeff tackles some very interesting questions in science fiction by putting children in the line of some interesting fires. Also, Valerie and her role in the ship and the crew is the stuff that makes absolutely compelling science fiction. This might be my favorite thing Jeff has written. It’s awesome.
I love Gabriel Walta’s work. I have since him and Tom King tackled Vision and this story is very much perfect for his work. Walta is able to do science fiction with some incredibly human touches. Valerie’s various machines seemed both alien and familiar, that it’s easy to humanize her. The children are great and the details are very nice. The colors and illustrations are perfect for the psychology of the story. And I should also give some credit to Steve Wands for the lettering matching the tone of the story presented.
I really dig the size and look of the TKO Graphic Novels. They are a little larger than normal which showcases the art perfectly. All in all, this is an amazing graphic novel worthy of your collection. My hats off to TKO for their excellent work.
A lot’s happened since last I wrote this. My current podcast features the incredible K. Lynn Smith. She was a recent review, and she’s a hell of a talk. One of my many fun discoveries this year. I’ve had this incredible opportunity to talk to people I normally would not get the chance to. So I’ve enjoyed this. Take a listen to the podcast here.
I did my first ever Zoomcast with the incredible Sofia Evangelina. Sofia is a 17-year-old superstar. The way she carries herself is far more mature than adults twice her age. I was honored and privileged to get this opportunity. Take a view of it yourself. Or wait this weekend when the podcast airs of my conversation with her.
Oh, and yeah, my book came out. If you want to make this author supremely happy, take a look and purchase this Sci-Fi adventure involving a very cowardly main character named Johnny Wheeler. Johnny follows a girl named Gunblade into the cloud and gets a file that everyone from zombie mobsters to unicorns that fart rainbows are after. What’s not to love about this kind of story. Get it on Amazon and let me know what you think. Amazon.com
And that will do it. Webtoon is going to be the source of my next column. I’ll also be announcing my next book as well. Keep on keeping on out there. Nothing may be for sure right now, but we can’t quit now. Stay inspired and chase joy.