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From the beginning, Wild Blue Yonder (published by IDW) has been the comic book equivalent of a Summer Blockbuster: non-stop, high-octane (literally!) action, larger than life characters and, thanks to the stunning visuals of Zach Howard and Nelson Daniel, special effects like you wouldn’t believe. The story involves the ragtag crew of The Dawn, a giant airship permanently flying over the earth, which (for reasons barely touched upon) is a scorched ruin. On their heels is the relentless Judge, who is after both their ship and their seemingly endless fuel supply. It’s like Firefly meets The Rocketeer meets The Road Warrior.

Previous issues, have–in between all the dogfights–explored life on The Dawn, and the interpersonal relationships of the cast including: Cola (the headstrong, daredevil pilot), Tug (the newbie and love interest of Cola), The Commander (tough, seemingly unfeeling and, oh yeah, Cola’s mom) and sure-to-be-fan-favorite Scram (a combustible, gregarious combination of Woody Harrelson and Hulk Hogan; easily the stand-out). The writers–Mike Raicht, Austin Harrison, and the aforementioned Mr. Howard–have done a nice job sketching in just enough telling dialogue and spare, quiet moments to make these characters compelling. Particularly well-handled is the mother/daughter dynamic between The Commander and Cola, as the former has to balance the needs of The Dawn with her daughter’s struggle to become her own woman. It’s great to see women take a primary role in a story like this, while leaving plenty of butt-kicking for the men, as well.

Speaking of butt-kicking: issue 5. It’s pretty much cover-to-cover action, as the Judge’s forces engage the woefully outnumbered inhabitants of The Dawn. Extended battle sequences like this can be difficult to orchestrate in a comprehensible manner (just ask Michael Bay). This can be even more challenging in comics, where the images are necessarily static; but Howard and Daniel handle it with aplomb. Through clean layout and bold composition, they expertly control the pacing so that the fast moments whizz by, while the big moments are allowed to be, well, big (though the biggest, involving a fateful decision by Tug, you could see a mile coming). In the midst of all of this they still manage some human moments, most affectingly with the Judge himself, transforming what had been a heavy, Darth Vader-type into a relatable, almost sympathetic human being.

In fact, my biggest complaint is that I’d like to spend more time with these characters, exploring their backgrounds, motivations and interactions in this harrowing, fantastic world. Ah well, if this is a Summer Blockbuster, I can only hope for the Inevitable Sequel.

Wild Blue Yonder #5 hits the shelves on 7/23.

Turning pages,

Derek Mainhart

–Wild Blue Yonder #5