Pullbox Reviews: Lost on Planet Earth #1, from ComiXology Originals

It’s 2381, and Basil Miranda, on the verge of graduation, knows exactly what she’s doing with the rest of her life and always has: a primo assignment on the best ship in the fleet alongside her best friend in the world. She has meticulously prepared herself, and the final Fleet Exam is tomorrow. But what if none of that is what she really wants? And why hasn’t she ever asked herself that before?

Expectations are a bitch, aren’t they?

We’re not just talking about external expectations like parents, friends, total strangers who think they know what you’re about even though they’ve never dealt with what you have to deal with every day and still think that they can tell you how to…

Sorry, that might have gotten away from me a little. I think we can all agree that staying too intent on walking a predetermined path, living up to the expectations of ourselves as well as others, can stunt your growth.

Basil Miranda might have some idea about how deeply rooted our reliance on expectations can be. Her entire life, it’s been understood that she would be dedicated to service in the Interplanetary Fleet. Everyone in her family has served, a tradition going back several generations, and Basil has every intention of upholding that honor with just one deviation. Basil wants to go further. She will make Captain and she will command her a ship of her very own, something no other Miranda has ever accomplished. Every waking moment is spent with a laser focus aimed at that very specific and lofty goal. It’s all she’s ever wanted.

But is it really? Is a lifetime spent exploring the outer reaches of space, seeking new worlds in the final frontier really what’s going to make Basil happy? The focus of Lost on Planet Earth, as the title would imply, isn’t really going to be about one young woman’s quest to “boldly go…” Frankly, there are any number of comics that could fill that particular niche. Where this title seems to be heading may be about exploration & discovery, but it’s more about looking closer to home for all the things you might have missed.

Magdalene Visaggio does a great job of manipulating expectations, taking the story that I thought I was going to read and bending it into something that could turn out to be totally new. She’s also got a talent for creating quirky characters who could very easily fly over the top & out of control, but keeping them just shy of “too much”. Basil Miranda is peppy, unflappable, totally in tune with her place in the world… until she isn’t, and it’s at that point that she could have gone off the rails into the realm of weepy and annoying. Instead Visaggio uses her self-actuation as a springboard to make Basil a more layered person. Sure, her entire life has been spent driving toward a goal that she didn’t really want for herself. But rather than seeing it as a life tragically wasted, she takes the opportunity to dive into everything that she’s overlooked. From the start, I knew that Basil was way too intense for the position of Fleet Captain to be her destiny. That which does not bend will break. I knew that Visaggio had other plans for Basil (again, before you go pointing a finger & crying “SPOILER!” at me like a pod person, it’s in the title of the book). It was just a question of the path she was going to take to get Basil- and us- there.

As Visaggio has established a pretty upbeat story, the artwork would have to reflect that attitude. In that regard, Claudia Aguirre is on the job. While not overly stylized or cartoony, Aguirre has established a brightly lit world of positivity and hope. You don’t have to look any farther than the cover art to see it… Basil NOT wearing a military uniform of any kind, a wistful smile on her face as she’s listening to whatever it is she’s got going on those ear pods. Aquirre is in tune with Visaggio’s script, building on it to create characters who are easy to follow, in a world that’s pretty sparse on shadows. Her lighting effects are downright pretty, and even though there isn’t much action in this issue, she shows some impressive attention to detail in what there is… there’s a scene in which Basil is sparring with her friend Charlotte, & she lays down a very well executed armbar. It’s a little thing, but it’s the kind of thing I notice and really enjoy seeing when it’s done well.

The letters by Zakk Saam (cool name) are crisp & clean, with no caffeine… Nothing is wasted, nothing splashed across the page that absolutely didn’t need to be there. That doesn’t sound like a very high bar, but as a letterer it’s just about the heart of the job. Too much space taken up by dialogue & thought bubbles means that there’s less space for the artwork to do its job, & improperly placed text can ruin the flow of a great story. Basically, if the letterer on a comic can get you to forget that they’re even there, they’ve done a fantastic job. Saam did all of that, kept the script easy to read, and has one of the coolest twitter pics ever…

Actually, now that I’m looking at it, the entire creative team has matching twitter pics. That’s pretty much awesome!

Lost on Planet Earth is one of the latest in a growing library of ComiXology Originals that lived up to its promise. So long as you’re not predisposed against digital comics, their lineup of comics from some pretty impressive talent is well worth the monthly cost. This was a great intro for a title I’ll follow just to see where it’s going.

Final Score: 10+

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