Written By: Cullen Bunn
Illustrated By: Andy MacDonald
Colored By: Nick Filardi
Lettered By: Crank!
Cover: Andy MacDonald & Nick Filardi
Variant Cover: Kyle Strahm
Oni Exclusive Cover: Andy MacDonald
Publisher: Oni Press
Available: May 27, 2020
Out later this month from Oni Press is the first issue of Rogue Planet, a four-part sci-fi-horror by Cullen Bunn and Andy MacDonald. Set in the vasty blackness of deepest space, the story follows the crew of salvage vessel Cortes and its investigation of Lonely Orphan, a meandering planet without its own solar system.
Accustomed to treacherous conditions, equipment failure and competition from other salvage operations—as well as flat-out failure—the Cortes’ crew believe themselves due for a big hit, and by all signs, Lonely Orphan appears to be it. Despite dissonance among its staff due to recent failures, they’re keyed in for a score. For whatever reason, the planet has disengaged from its home system and been set adrift in space—but not without a signal beacon indicating a king’s ransom in salvage.
All of which begs a question or two: If Cortes was picking up that beacon, wouldn’t any one of a thousand other operations be doing the same? And if so, where are they? Or—ok, maybe three questions, but here’s the big one—what if the rogue planet wasn’t a victim of some galactic happenstance, the loss of its sun or something else beyond its control, but instead chose to leave its home system?
Turns out, there’s more than just razor rock and poisonous vapor lurking in and about the rogue planet, and whatever haul the Cortes takes is going to come at some cost…
So, when I emailed the Pullbox Bullpen that I’d be reviewing Rogue Planet eighteen seconds after receiving the press pdf, I got what’s become a predictable refrain from buddy Paul: “When I saw the names ‘Cullen’ and ‘Bunn’ connected to that one, I figured you’d be putting in for it.” Seems I’ve developed a bit of a niche among my peers—as being somewhat of a horror and fantasy fanatic—and in my book, there’s a couple names among those genres—Jim Zub and Mark Russell for fantasy, and Rich Douek and Cullen Bunn for horror, from whom I’d basically read anything associated with them. Up to and including cooking advice (lookin’ at you, Zub!).
And once again, Bunn (Harrow County, Bone Parish, Sixth Gun) doesn’t disappoint. Here, we’re treated to an Alien-esque setting with a big bad significantly, well, bigger than anything Alien had to offer; a definite change in direction for the typically Earth- and ghost-centered writer. It’s only a four-issue arc, so we’re right into the action, with minimal backstory. Nevertheless, our team is quickly differentiated by their language patterns, topical choices, the forcefulness of their personalities. Bunn, as per usual, offers a well-formed cast of characters who are largely secondary to his plot. Tone and atmosphere are set immediately, through both setting and dialogue. Like any strong horror writer, Bunn is able to convey that you, as his reader, should be on edge and ready for MAJOR SCARY CRAP without bonking you over the head with a big “SCARY” mallet.
Aiding Bunn’s script are Andy MacDonald’s lines and Nick Filardi’s colors.
McDonald (Machine Man, Loki, Dr. Strange) does a beautiful job of providing vision to Bunn’s script, contrasting the straight and stark lines of the Cortes’ tech with the blending of meandering curves and whorls of Lonely Orphan’s atmosphere and the jagged crystals and rock of its surface. And, you know, the alien…figures themselves (they show up early, so I’m not giving much away here). His style is a nice blend of comic and realistic, positing us in the world of quite believable fiction (not to mention the fact that he and Filardi offer up a wicked awesome cover!).
Filardi’s (Nighwing, The Realm, Umbrella Academy) colors do phenomenal work aiding in establishing the alien setting and tone of Lonely Orphan. Mixing deceptively peaceful white and blue crystalline beauty with wavy aurora borealis-esque greens and yellows against the harsh purples and pinks of the land itself and the big bad, the reader is transported to this very other-feeling alien world. Filardi and Bunn also team up to color-differentiate each team member’s facemask, allowing better character differentiation during a sequence where it would otherwise be a little difficult to discern who’s who.
Crank! does yeoman’s work with the lettering, employing an effective differentiation among alien vs human vs robotic/data speak, all of which leaves the page clean and easily digested while conveying the large amount of information Bunn’s script presents.
All in all, a well-executed first issue of what promises to be another Bunn classic.
So, you got me, Paul. Not even gonna deny it—add Rogue Planet to the long and growing list of excellent reads from one of the most prolific writers in the comic industry. If you haven’t already, get it added to your pull list at your local comic shop, or via comiXology, Amazon or any of the other usual suspects.
And you can even tell ‘em Andy sent you—pretty sure that and four bucks or so’ll get you a new comic!
Score: 12 (of 13)
Review by Andy Patch
Contributing Editor, thepullbox.com