Image Comics is doing some cool stuff these days, and one of those cool things is Planetoid #1 by Ken Garing. You'd think that desolate wastelands would be boring at this point, but Garing brings strong art and an a compelling scope to bear on his story, keeping us interested in what happens next.
An ex-military smuggler named Silas, who looks an awful lot like Marvel's Cable in that he's a burly grey-haired guy wearing armor and ponchos and such, inexplicably crash lands on a planet so full of detritus and junk that it's probably not even a planet – just a planetoid. As he wanders the crap-strewn landscape in search of life and/or answers, he runs into creepy little lizards that eat his tent, and then has to fight off a crazy giant robo-snake monster in a toxic gasoline-sludge lake. Thakfully, an old guy named Mendel is there to clean up the mess and patch his wounds and give us some exposition – a little clunkily, I might add, but not too bad – enough time is spent setting up the mysteriously dilapidated surroundings that the infodump is welcome.
Turns out this planetoid emits an electromagnetic pull, and every ship or hunk of space debris that gets near it winds up sucked onto its surface with no escape possible. The remnants of an abandoned government mining operation introduced rogue A.I. elements into the robot slave force, resulting in crazy things like robo-snake monsters. There's a pocket of civilization we'll see in subsequent issues, but the fact that it's called The Slab doesn't bode well.
Slab, sludge, junk, This book is going to be grimy, but it's done in a cool enough manner that we can get into it. Garing's art is eye-catching, even when rendering a world of supremely ugly industrial scrapyards. The rusty atmosphere, the neat interface with Silas' info program Ricter, the well-crafted human forms and interesting robotics – it adds up to an untidy package of grit setting an intriguingly austere scene.
Planetoid #1 is worth checking out, and chances are The Slab is going to kick things up a notch when we get to see that place.