Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Orbital, Volume 2- Ruptures by Serge Pelle and Sylvain Runberg

The humans and the Sandjarrs had been at war with each other, and neither was a part of the galactic community until, to end the war, a group of aliens offered both races the opportunity to join the Federation- provided the war would end.

Now, years later, both humans and Sandjarrs are members, but humans are looked down upon as being stupid and warlike. Caleb, a human, and Mezoke, a Sandjarr, have joined the diplomatic agents to bring peace to the galaxy and mediate disputes between different races. Both are the first of their kind to join, and the first to actually be aceepted.

Many humans still consider the Sandjarrs to be their rivals or enemies, but as long as they don't have to be around them, that's just fine. One group of humans have moved to the planet Senestam, a moon of the planet Upsall. The Javlods, who live on Upsall, used to mine on Senestam, but when the mine played out, they abandoned it, and the moon. They claim that the humans are squatters and need to go.

The humans, on the contrary, say that the planet was abandoned, but the mines weren't completely played out. In fact, the humans have been bringing out ore and selling it to support themselves and their families.

But now, both Humans and Javlods on Senestam have gone missing, and nobody really knows why, but both sides blame the other for the disappearances. But Caleb and Mezoke have found the reason for the disappearances- tentacled alien beasts called Stilvulls, which have found shelter in the abandoned mine's lower reaches. When the humans went back to mining, they awoke the Stilvulls, and with the number of them now living in the mines, they will wipe out the humans if something isn't done.

As Caleb stays behind on Senestam, Mezoke travels to Upsall to mediate with the Javlods. Unfortunately for both Caleb and Mezoke, someone wants to see them fail, and a Javlod politician on Upsall wants to use the situation to his own advantage, possibly even to overthrow the head of the galactic council. And someone has killed the soldiers sent with Caleb and Mezoke.

Who is setting them up to fail and why? Is it simple racism, or a more insidious plan to overthrow the Federation? Who is behind it, and it's rather obvious that whoever is doing it is planning to place the blame on the humans, or the Sandjarrs, or both- as the newcomers, they'd have less people to stick up for them. But who gains in a Federation-wide war?

This was a welcome change from the usual American or Japanese comics that I read. The alien characters are satisfyingly alien, even the stilvulls, which are tentacled but don't even slightly resemble anything from a Hentai story, and have an incredible air of menace as well.

This book wraps up the situation from the first volume, and amps up the tension back on both Upsall and Senestam, and on the Galactic Federation Homeworld as well. The fact that the Javlod amabassador/Council member was the one who seemed to be subtly threatening the President with his overly solicitous attitude was interesting- but are the Javlods the only one to blame? It seems not.

I enjoyed this comic, which definitely has a different sensibility than most other comics and graphic novels don't. If you're looking for something different and interesting, and based on Science Fiction rather than Fantasy, this is the graphic novel series for you.

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