A little background on this comic book: none. I have no context about this comic whatsoever. I hadn’t heard of the series before it was placed in front of me. This may sound horrifying to some comics readers, but it is a similar experience to how I felt last night when the television was on and Chicago Fire began playing. I don’t know anything about the television program Chicago Fire. I'm completely unfamiliar with its writers, actors, characters and tones. But the show started playing and I decided to roll with it. Chicago Fire has an overall premise and multiple tonal layers that are expressed through various plots and subplots. It’s a standard television evening drama. I could have easily said Grey’s Anatomy, another evening drama that functions in the same manner and you'd get the idea.
Well, Wasted Space is the comic book equivalent of those television evening dramas.
You’ve got your cast of characters, who are these space-faring criminals or whatever. There’s the captain, his best friend and two less important crew members who are siblings. There doesn’t seem to be an adorable mascot which seems to be a serious oversight on the part of the creators. It’s a comic book, so you don’t have to deal with training the animals. They should give the space-gang a pet or something. But that’s the prerogative of the creative team, i.e., none of my business. I’m just a reader, along for the ride.
So if you’re me and you’re reading this comic book which could not be more random if you tried—the eighth installment of a serial that you are unfamiliar with—and you’re hoping to just dive in feet first? It pretty much works. The two parallel storylines of this issue both deal with repercussions of events that occurred in previous issues. One guy had his arm ripped off and another guy is coping with having murdered his own father. I get the impression that, for the long-term fans of Wasted Space, this issue might be a let-down in terms of action. Both stories in issue 8 are just people talking about how sad they are. Nobody gets dismembered or murdered.
In either case, it’s up my alley. I can take or leave graphic violence but this comic features the most “mature readers” style content possible: adults making themselves emotionally vulnerable and holding each other accountable for their actions. As far as the nuts and bolts of the storytelling, I found the dialogue a bit cliched and poppy, much in the way that the dialogue of the aforementioned Chicago Fire feels. Characters speak in ways that convey information and implication. But the characters never quite read as people as much as they seem like mouthpieces for the writer’s point-counterpoint display of themes. The script is utilitarian and gently bounces along while the real star of the show—the art—makes its presence known.
Hayden Sherman's drawings--both in their composition and their ink style—reminded me immediately of Ted McKeever’s art. I don’t usually believe in comparing art styles, but I just want to place you in the neighborhood of the visual style that is occurring. Everybody and everything in Wasted Space is square and angular and flat. Or maybe flattish? Sort of flat. The colors do an excellent job of lending a touch of additional texture and dimensionality to the art here. I think that this art would be just as entertaining if it were flat colors or black-and-white. But that’s neither here nor there. The visual package deal works for me. I’m a little bit concerned about the way that the characters’ facial details are handled in closeup panels. The wedge-like noses and large-brushed facial markings sort of teeter the line between deliberate abstraction and sloppiness. But the more I look at these choices, the more I like them.
All in all, I found this comic pleasant. Not sure if someone who isn’t invested in the lives and times of the space-gang needs to read this particular issue of Wasted Space but on the other hand, it could be as good a place as any to hitch a ride with this crew.