SHRAPNEL: ARISTEIA RISING #3
Written by M. Zachary Sherman and Drawn by Bagus Hutomo
Published by Radical Comics
SHRAPNEL returns in the third and best issue to date, delivering a massively entertaining mix of drama, conflict and romance. With the Alliance and the Venus freedom fighters at a temporary ceasefire, the war action is halted in this issue and character development takes the forefront, keeping up the pace of the book despite the lack of things getting blown up.
Issue #3 opens with Captain Sam Narayan showing Helot soldiers how to honor their fallen friends during war time. Her passionate yet practical speeches are more than enough to make her stand out in a crowd of warriors, both green and experienced. Her obvious skills on the battlefield as a military leader draw her into the central command room where she is offered the commanding position of an entire battalion. After a private conversation with her CG ‘sister’ and giving herself a G.I. Jane new ‘do, Sam finds the strength within herself to do what is needed of her. She leads.
From giving history lessons on battle equipment to orating inspirational speeches for the grunts under her command, Sam is developing into an amazingly strong female character. When faced with a Marine Colonel sent to offer the people of Venus one last chance to surrender, we learn more of Sam’s history with the Alliance and why she’s running from her past, making her even more of an endearing individual. Yet the conversation between these two soldiers will leave readers liking the ardent and intelligent Colonel as well, and wishing this conflict did not have to come to such a bloody conclusion.
Sherman goes above and beyond in this issue, providing excellent and heartfelt dialogue while keeping the story on an even, believable keel. The tension is successfully built in the necessary scenes, while bits of strategically timed humor and romance keep the book from diving too deep into the horrors of wartime.
As with any excellent comic, the art and writing need to be on the same wavelength, and never have Hutomo’s pencils and Sherman’s words flowed together so succinctly than in this issue. With his dramatic angles and grainy lines, Hutomo delivers beautiful panels well suited for such visceral story-telling. If there are science fiction, war story and drama comic fans out there who have yet to pick this up, now is the time to get into SHRAPNEL and enjoy a truly great comic.