Friday, March 02, 2007

Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals #2

Leonard Nimoy’s Primortals #2, April 1995, Tekno Comics
writer: Lawrence Watt-Evans
penciller: Scot Eaton
inker: Mike Barreiro
letterer: Ken Bruzenak
colorist: Zachary Lynch
computer colorist: Kell-o-Graphics and Jung Choi
chief scientific advisor: Dr. Charles Sheffield
editor: James Chambers

Who else can best explore the possibility of communicating with extraterrestrial species than Leonard Nimoy? In his role as Mr. Spock on Star Trek, Nimoy played one of the first aliens in fiction that the audience was supposed to like; further, according to Star Trek lore (specifically the feature film First Contact), Vulcans are the first aliens to befriend Earth, what with humanity having discovered warp drive. Yes, Leonard Nimoy should know what he’s talking about, if only as an apprentice in storytelling to the great Gene Roddenberry, so with his name emblazoned on the cover of this issue so prominently, I eagerly purchased this issue from a local twenty-five cent back issue box, assured that I’d find myself treading where no reader has gone before . . .

I was wrong. Apparently I’m an issue shy of reading something actually coined by Nimoy, though even he was merely interviewed in a supplemental piece at the end of the Primortals #1. At the end of this issue, Dr. Charles Sheffield, a supposed scientist that offers the most generalized perception of this concept as possible, in the broadest terms imaginable. When asked about his vision of the future, Sheffield answers, “We can reach solutions by understanding what technology can and can’t do and using it the right way.” Does someone really need to be a scientist to figure that out? Further, regarding the possibility of receiving a transmission from outer space, Sheffield asserts, “They might understand mathematical theorems, but actual conversation might take centuries.” Centuries? In one century our nation went from cotton gin industry to DSL Internet connectivity. I wonder if the study of possible extraterrestrial life really stunts one’s faith in humanity.

As far this issue’s actual story, Nimoy inspired it, but he didn’t write it. Bouncing between the hapless scientists that received Earth’s first inexplicable subspace transmission and the alien that sent it in an attempt to deceive humanity against his enemies, and although this is only the second issue of Primortals, I’m already lost. While the apparent pacifist nature of one of the alien despot’s is an interesting contrast to our expectations, the dichotomy isn’t anything we haven’t seen in such comic epics as the Kree-Skrull War. On the human side, I was amused by writer Watt-Evans’ inclusion of the media in the scientist’s futile attempt to keep his extraterrestrial communication a secret, but otherwise, I was frankly bored by the series of head shots that ultimately took this chapter of the plot no where. Unfortunate for a tale that could take us to the depths of the galaxy.

Regarding the artwork, an initial of this artists’ style reveals the indicative exaggerated anatomy indicative of this image conscious era (pun intended), but upon closer examination, I wonder if Primortals is a potential example of that panel-swiping phenomenon I’ve heard so much about. Yes, I’ve heard of young artists actually swiping their favorite page layouts and adapting them for their own characters and story. Some of these panels remind me of images from The Incredible Hulk that may have been released around that time, but I haven’t done my research yet. This is flat out aimless accusation on my part. Honestly, I hope I’m wrong. If you put Leonard Nimoy’s name above the title of your comic book, you better be prepared to bring the original material one might expect from a hero of the sci-fi genre.

Me, I wasn’t into it. I’ve read quite a few comics during the A Comic A Day challenge that boast celebrities’ names to push paper. While I trust the folks at Tekno Comics may have genuinely sought to launch a new branch of science fiction, I’m afraid neither the science nor the fiction of the Primortal universe appeals to a general audience. If I decided to explore the high concept of alien communication, I wouldn’t mire my material in unapproachable continuity-dependent subplots. I’d want new readers to effortlessly hope aboard with every issue. To want otherwise would simply be . . . illogical. Is it any wonder this series didn’t live long or prosper?

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