4, 3, 2, 1, Earth Below Us
Bowman Earthbound (Hic & Hoc Publications): The follow-up to Pat Aulisio’s Bowman 2016 has quickly created a franchise that’s among my favorite works from a publisher that’s yet to have a significant misstep in their expanding catalogue. Wayward astronaut-cum-psychonaut Dave Bowman finds himself bored with the monotony of absolute power on his adopted planet, as the monolithic structure returns just in time to sweep him away. With more obvious nods this time around to the Kubrick classic where the series derives its spin-off origins, Bowman begins time-jumping to a future post-apocalyptic Earth. If you can possibly imagine it, this issue is actually quieter than the previous one in terms of sheer Sturm und Drang, despite pan-dimensional time-hopping and futuristic biker gangs rolling tanks and dinosaurs while roving the impending Earth wasteland. Bowman seems more at home with the common informal slang of his impulsive brethren, where he’s actually a relative thinker, than he does in the company of the alien gods who granted him his power in the first place, somehow retaining his humanity in the face of such wanton and rampant sci-fi spectacle. It’s tempting to just call Aulisio’s visuals “brilliant” and call it a day, but that shorthand doesn’t do much in terms of explanation. His aesthetic is like perfectly composed sketches, the type of fast connect-the-dot books we did as kids, where it feels like everything on the page can be traced back from the same solitary line source winding and rotating and bending at will around the page, filling every nook and cranny with latent kinetic energy ready to bound off the paper and direct inject into your occipital cortex’s imagination center. Brilliant, right? The story is fun, sure, but the art is what pushes the experience over the top into memorable cult classic territory. Grade A+.