Top positive review
One person found this helpful
"I don't know what to do... I don't want to be a warrior anymore..."
on January 28, 2011
Yep, this one scratches that itch, if you're a hard core military sci-fi fan. SHRAPNEL: ARISTEIA RISING is a blistering, good old-fashioned war story set in the far-flung future. Centuries from now, man will have expanded its territories across the solar system. You'd think with more breathing room, people would be more apt to give each other space, respect each other's privacy, be more tolerant, yada, yada, yada. It's a pipe dream. Because in the future, according to SHRAPNEL: ARISTEIA RISING, man is as much of an asshat. In the future, the war drums beat on.
The expansionist Solar Alliance of Planets has been systematically conquering the solar system, and now it's gotten around to the final holdout: the independent mining colonies of Venus. The Solar Alliance's representative tells the President of Venus: "Please don't consider this an occupation, Mr. President. We're simply here to make sure the Alliance's democracy and its way of life are spread across the system uniformly." The defiant President of Venus pretty much gives him the finger. War, on.
Except that it bodes to be a hell of an uneven contest. The mighty Solar Alliance of Planets deploys its highly trained United Space Marine Corps. The mining colonies of Venus have had one year of half-arsed militia training. But, unknowingly, these mining colonies happen to be home to the most notorious soldier in recent years, come to Venus to escape her past.
No one figured on Sam, mysterious and distant. Sam is one of them reluctant heroines, someone world-weary and guilt-ridden and who just wants to blend into the background. In private Sam often converses with her personal holographic psychologist in the shape of her dead kid sister Ria. When war breaks out on Venus, Sam packs her bags, fully intending to amscray the uckfay out of town. And yet when the Marine troops launch their assault and begin to pick off the colonists, I wasn't - and you shouldn't be, either - surprised that Sam steps in at the last second and serves the space jarheads a plate of assswhoopin'. You know that adage about how good work gets rewarded with even more work? Sam is promptly promoted to the rank of battlefield commander, suddenly Venus's best hope.
Radical Publishing, y'all need to look into it. Radical has been coming out with some really good stuff (FVZA, LEGENDS: THE ENCHANTED, CALIBER: FIRST CANON OF JUSTICE, HOTWIRE: REQUIEM FOR THE DEAD - just to name four series off the top of my head). As much as I appreciate SHRAPNEL: ARISTEIA RISING, I would put it slightly behind the other titles just mentioned. And it's not because of the story's set-up, which happens to be pretty intriguing. M. Zachary Sherman crafts a story that draws you in. Even the political undercurrents are interesting. And it's not the heroine. Sam makes for a compelling central character, no-nonsense and very capable and privately angsty. What undercuts the storytelling is the art. You can admire Bagus Hutomo's visuals for the awesome impressionistic paintings that they are. Some of those spectacular two-paged layouts are very much worthy of gracing an art fan's wall. But in terms of storytelling, the art lacks clarity. The images are so murky, it makes it hard to follow what's going on. And it really, really doesn't help that the combatants are often in full battle armor. My having had to work hard to interpret the artwork compels me to take away half a star, leaving my rating as 3.5 out of 5 stars. This volume is certainly worth a look for its aesthetics, even its visual aesthetics. But, dang, my eyes were straining like a mother. Still, count me in for volume 2 (SHRAPNEL: HUBRIS). I think I'm crushing on Sam.