- Series: Siberia 56
- Hardcover: 156 pages
- Publisher: Insight Comics (March 14, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1608878619
- ISBN-13: 978-1608878611
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.6 x 11.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,005,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Siberia 56 Hardcover – March 14, 2017
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About the Author
Christophe Bec is the writer of over fifty graphic novels. His flagship series as a writer, Shrine, has sold several hundred thousand copies worldwide. He is also the author of the comics Prometheus, Carthago, Darkness, Bunker, and Aéropostale.
Alexis Sentenac worked as a graphic designer for nine years before discovering his passion for comics. His first series, The Hydra of Ares, was based on a screenplay by Eric Corbeyran. He has since collaborated on various science fiction and fantasy series such as Zodiac and the popular Assassin’s Creed series.
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Siberia 56 is a planet with icy extremes but suitable for remote colonization. When the colony's 8 yearly replacements arrive, an emergency forces a crash landing of their shuttle 150 miles off course [oddly enough, they still use Imperial measurements in the future]. In journeying to the colony, they will fight the planet's weather conditions as well as the few predatory creatures that survive in the harsh environment. But the predators are only one of the concerns as they also come across an alien civilization ruins that are millions of years old. It may not just be the the planet that doesn't want the humans there......
I greatly appreciated that the story unfolds in interesting ways - sometimes starting in the past and sometimes starting in the future. All threads are relevant, however, to the main plot and therefore readers won't feel lost or annoyed at the jumps. There is one protagonist and it is his story that we follow to the bitter end.
As much as I enjoyed the story, it did fall flat in some areas (pacing issues) and I had logic issues throughout. E.g., no information about an apex predator that is devastating the planet nor about the alien civilization that they knew existed was in the records given to the new colonists - only the smaller predators were discussed. That seemed odd considering there was no conspiracy to hide information and one would think that in the 50(?) odd years that the place had been colonized, no one had bothered to analyze the biggest threat or the mysterious alien civilization? What the heck were the other colonists doing there, then, other than building a large facility? And why wouldn't the invisible entity stalking them not be in the predator information?
Author Bec isn't afraid to kill off characters and the body count can get pretty deadening. There are great moments of pathos but it is kind of killed by the apathetic responses to the situations by our main colonist. He just seems to be moving in a fog and important moments are given a tell or a show that should resonate more than they do. It was hard to get into any of the characters or even differentiate them other than male or female and then dead body. Too much time/emphasis is given on some areas and then not enough time is spent in others.
I have to admit, most of the actions/situations of the characters felt very deus ex machina in order to create 'poignant moments'. As such, they never really felt authentic and fell very flat. I didn't have any reaction as I should have and nothing really made me ponder any of the book after I had completed it. I didn't agree with or understand any of the choices the characters made and so I kind of just waited for the repercussions knowing that they would be bad.
The illustration work suits the story well as does the washed out coloring. If anything, I found the coloring to be the best part of Siberia 56 with its tones of blues and whites - a story set in ice/snow could be very bland but the scapes do come alive with the color. I just wish the people were a bit more differentiated - they all began to look alike at some point and I couldn't tell the difference any more (even with the women, oddly enough).
In all, it wasn't a terrible book by any means but admittedly the Forbidden Planet references (e.g., the movie came out in 1956 and this novel is Siberia 56) were a bit too strong (not literally but in the idea of the main villain and psychological themes) and pulled me out of the story. I was oddly disaffected and disenfranchised throughout - I felt like I had already read this story before/someone had taken various sci fi movie storylines and pieced them together. I wish this added something new to the genre but it just didn't. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
The story eventually flashes back 96 years, to the first humans who establish a science base on Siberia 56, before returning to the present. Suffice it to say that the planet caused just as much gory death in the past as it does in the present. In fact, the scientists pay tribute to the movie Forbidden Planet when they name one of Siberia 56’s predators. The writer should also pay tribute to Dune, since some of the predators are thinly disguised sandworms, except they travel under the ice, which I suppose makes them iceworms.
This is the kind of story where a bunch of people die and a bunch of other people say “Let’s go investigate!” and then they die. They couldn’t see that coming? Anybody with any sense would lock the doors and wait 8 years for the next relief team to arrive, but that wouldn’t make much of a story.
The story is bleak, which is better than throwing in an artificially happy ending. The art is fantastic. The sparing and unusual use of color, contrasted with the icy darkness of the planet, perfectly conveys the sense of being somewhere that isn’t Earth.
A team of scientists come to replace the team currently on Siberia 56. Their ship crashes on entry, and they must go 150 miles in order to reach the base. On foot. In crazy subzero temperatures on a planet with a few known predators. And as the team is soon to discover, there’s a serious unknown predator too. Will any of them make it to the base?
The story continues with the survivors of the first part trying to find a way to get rid of the nasty creature they discovered. Interspersed are some flash backs of first missions to the planet.
While researching some ancient structures on the planet, the team accidentally triggers a monstrous cosmic storm. They send out a rescue signal, but the powers that be on Earth have many things to weigh in their decision of whether to evacuate Serbia 56 or not.
If you’ve seen more than a few scifi movies, you will have a very good idea how this story is going to go and will be taking bets on who will survive. So it is somewhat predictable, but the artwork is cool and there’s still something morbidly enjoyable about a space survival story even if you know a majority of the cast is probably doomed. If you're looking for something new and fresh, you may want to try a different graphic novel. If you like disaster scifi, this may be just your thing. I can totally see this being turned into a TV series or made for TV movie.
Content notes: A few mild to moderate swear words, and over thirty strong swears. No sex scenes. Some vague, lewd references, a few scenes that show a man and woman in bed together just talking, one scene that shows two naked butts. Several deaths, a few bloody and some with implied guts.
I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.