Sherwood is a wizard on trapped four lightyears away from Earth on a massive space station called Proxima Centauri. He is there with a scientist named Duke Herzog, a time traveler named Dr. Ext, and a young woman named Parasol. Proxima Centauri is massive, having a lot of unexplored space. It is also inescapable. Sherwood wants to go home, but Herzog constantly reassures him that it is impossible. During one expedition across the space station, though, trouble finds Sherwood.
Proxima Centauri is a very interesting and complex comic, but I’m not entirely sure that it’s good.
That’s a bold opening statement, I’ll admit, and it will take a lot of qualification.
The comic has themes set around growing up, mortality, trustworthiness of authority figures, controlling emotions, and many other sub-themes. The plot has many moving parts. Sherwood is an interesting protagonist. Herzog, Ext, and Parasol are mysterious and clearly have their own agendas.
This should all amount to a good comic, but it can’t quite do so.
The comic is very unconventional in many ways. The lettering was done by hand, paneling is sparse and rarely does anything more than split a page in half, and landscapes are often deliberately left unfilled. None of this is inherently bad. However, it, along with the confusing nature of the narrative progression and exposition, makes it Proxima Centauri a difficult comic to become immersed within.
This problem is compounded by the art. Farel Dalrymple provides some excellent artwork in the comic, but scenes aren’t filled out enough. Often you have no idea where Sherwood is in relation to other characters or what the room he is in even looks like. Much of the space station has very surrealist settings, so you’re left to wonder what is real and what is metaphorical. That’s not inherently bad, but Sherwood’s story isn’t surrealist. There is a clear and physical conflict with grounded threats. Thus, it’s hard to become immersed in the story because tension dissolves when that suspension of disbelief gives way.
Proxima Centauri #1 isn’t a bad comic, and I can’t even confidently ward anyone away from it. It has great ideas and characters, but it makes so many fundamental missteps that my ability to become immersed or invested is halted. I want people to check this one out because I respect the comic a lot of what the book does, but I can’t recommend it on the grounds of it not being a cohesively good product.
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