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A World of Things Left Behind

A psychic astronaut faces down Death on every plant encountered

What remains of a fallen civilization? That’s the question at the center of Aftershock’s newest science fiction comic, World Reader. The new book focuses on an astronaut with a psychic ability to connect to the spirits of dead alien races.

World Reader
World Reader

In World Reader #1 our main character is Sarah. She’s a member of a crew of space explorers investigating uninhabited planets. Sarah has deep connections to the lost citizens of these dead civilizations. It’s her driving force. But it becomes apparent this not the primary focus of the crew’s mission.

Sarah frequently bumps up against the captain, who’s set on collecting soil samples and investigating the scientific structure planets. He scoffs at Sarah’s supernatural and existential ability. The battle between the science-minded crew members and those open to more ethereal answers will be a major aspect of this story.

Secrets are killing the universe

There’s also a strong mystery at the heart of this book. Sarah is used to connecting to dead cultures, but there’s something more unsettling about this planet. The spirits are unusually quiet and Sarah finds it difficult to form a connection. As she digs deeper a sinister answer begins to appear. And Sarah finds that what’s happened here is beyond anyone’s imagination.

At its core, World Reader is about pure empathy. But it’s also a detective story with an existentialist bent. Writer Jeff Loveness throws us into a sci-fi world without weighing the story down with needless details. He’s building a world, but trusts the reader to follow the events without holding their hand.

The art by Juan Doe gives the book a colorful and dreamy look that perfectly fits the trippy alien nature of the setting and story. It’s a richly designed world that begs to be discovered further.

In addition, it’s great to see a science fiction tale focused on the humanity of its characters, rather than epic battle sequences. As a result, conflict arises, but there’s a deeper philosophical tale that connects this comic to the classics of sci-fi literature.


World Reader #1, Aftershock Comics, Release date April 19, 2017, Written by Jeff Loveness, Art by Juan Doe, $3.99

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Written by John Campbell

John has been in love with comics since he was first given an issue of "Swamp Thing" at way too young an age. He can be heard every week on the podcast "Panel on Panels" discussing all things comics and comics related. He is also a filmmaker and actor who can be seen performing in shows around the Portland area.