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At its core, Shrapnel Hubris could be described as the Revolutionary War... in space. Venus stands as the last free colony, putting it on the defense against the United Space Marine Corps. This edition of the USMC is comprised of genetically enhanced soldiers, making them the greatest armed force in history. Together with the Martians, the USMC see themselves as superior races to the Herlots, the Venusian colonists who are armed only with their God given talents.
The story follows several soldiers of the Venus military forces, most notably Captain Narayan, leader of Venus army. She convinces the leader of Venus to send three ships comprised from her army as well as ex-USMC’s to Mars to strike the USMC. Things get off to a rough start, upon take off from Venus one of the three ships drifts too close to the sun and is destroyed. Before their battle has even begun the soldiers must face loss. In any war, be it modern or in the future, there is always loss and mourning.
For one soldier, the loss is much greater. He and his wife had been separated in case one of the ships didn't make it. As she was in the ship that crashed, he now must raise their son alone. Captain Narayan too suffers psychological trauma from the crash, blaming herself for the loss. After a gut feeling about a disaster, Narayan picked a different ship for herself. She consults a therapeutic computer program that attempts to ease her mind by rationalizing the events but it does little to help her as she's forced to press on towards Mars.
The story has a lot of political undertones about freedom and racism; the Helots are looked down upon because they're not genetically altered. In one scene two Helots fight with each other rather than face a group of Martians. The entire theme of the story is that people need to rise up against their suppressors to if they wish remain free.
This book is not Starship Troopers, even though based on content and style, many people may instantly assume it is. It features a unique story that attempts to deal with war in its own way, not in a retread or familiar fashion. For a comic book set in space, it really deals very little with the setting. The stories don’t contain crazy space ships or battle armadas. While there are Mech suits of varying sizes, there is no stereotype that forces the army to find the "chosen one." No, if you're in the Army chances are you know how to utilize one of the suits.
The story is created by Mark Long and Nick Sagan. Sagan also co-writes the story with Clinnette Minnis. The genesis of the idea takes its root in history. It's unclear in the first issue if the story will continue down the Revolutionary War path or if it will touch base in other wars throughout history. Regardless, it's a neat idea that is very well executed. Sagan and Minnis put a lot of effort into making the characters interesting. At times there can be too many to follow and everyone seems to have a speaking role. The different soldiers all come from different walks of life, but the dialog is the only way to the writers emphasize their diversity to the reader. It works, but it's not the books strongest point.
What's really striking about the book is the visual aspect, which comes from Concept Art House. It's safe to assume that since no lead artist is listed, that the end product was a team effort. It's also clear that the characters are 3-D models which make for a very consistent look. Some comic fans may be put off by the modeling, but it really works for the story. The modeling process makes for a much faster product, and when you consider the page count is just over fifty, that is an impressive output. The end result is a style that is uniquely its own that suits the writing.
The book itself is very different from other comics currently on the market. The pacing can be difficult to grasp at first, but the story really is able to hit its stride and delivers a complete package. The universe being introduced isn't quite fleshed out yet, and there's a twist introduced at the end of the issue that leave the reader scratching their head, but the overall product will hopefully leave the reader wanting more.
Story – 7.5
Plot – 8.2
Characters – 6.5
Art – 8.7
Color – 8.9
Overall – 8.0
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