Monday, June 21, 2010

Orbital: Scars and Ruptures

Sylvain Runberg and Serge Pelle have created an expansive world in their Orbital graphic novel series that would do Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas proud. The first volume, Scars, was originally published in 2006 then released in English last year. Along with volume two, Ruptures, the Orbital series is a stunning achievement.

Published in a large format, illustrator Pelle creates a bustling 23rd century landscape. Runberg's story begins in 2278, when earth is allegedly poised to join the intergalactic Confederation. Unfortunately violence erupts, killing many of the Sandjaar race and the reputation of the humans.

Moving several years forward, Caleb Swany is now the first human to be a special agent for the Confederation's diplomatic unit. In a controversial move, the Prime Dignitary pairs up Caleb with Mezoke Ozzua, a Sandjaar Confederation Citizen. Caleb and Mezoke must deal with their own conflict, as well as those of the planet they are visiting and the horrifyingly destructive insects that also live there.

The new agents' mission is on the planet Senestam where war is eminent between a human colony and the Javlads. There is great conflict between all of the parties as Runberg leads his fictional world through realistic issues like immigration, racism and moral relativism. Runberg, who grew up in France, seems to be heavily influenced by Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, among many other Science Fiction staples. Orbital is a deep series of politics, though there is still a sense of adventure and the heavy issues never weigh down the books.

I may be over-gushing, but this is one of my favorite graphic novels of the last few years. Fans of Brian K. Vaughan's Y: The Last Man and Tim Eldred's Grease Monkey will enjoy Orbital.

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