Space Monkey Business

Publisher: Image
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Letterer: Dave Stewart

I have already said how great this book is. The last issue honestly blew me away. Yet the quality continues in this issue The art goes some extraordinary places, the plot develops on both earth ad in space and there is some neat character work (not easy when half the characters are animals) as well. It’s a really tight story that packs a lot in, and art with so much detail you’ll send minutes on one page marvelling at it.

When last we left the animals Laika was meeting the monkeys Able and Baker in the weird white space where she’d been taken to. Meanwhile on earth Dr Donald Pembrook had met Yelena, Laika’s kind handler, in East Berlin. Both these threads are continued here and the way things are cut away between the two threads of them is really nicely done. The issue never feels disjointed. We follow each thread but at the same time can see how they interweave.

One of the highlights is Able’s tale. Just as Laika had her life flash before her as she was ‘made bigger’ so we see Able’s capture in the jungle, the experimentation. Mrs Baker is present too. The art just works so wonderfully well here. the disjointed ness, the snatches of memory are just so well conveyed. Everything from the panel choices to the mix of almost psychedelic renderings of close ups of parts of the body are just spot on.

There’s a contrast between this style and the shadowy world Donald and Yelena are working their way through but that’s no less evocative. The darkness of the shadows and the large snowflakes give a really dangerous wintery feel to the East Germany scenes. It’s bathed in a blue grey tone that really makes the bleakness stand out. Yet despite the setting being bleak there’s some really nice little character moments interspersed amongst it. Both are scientists and both aren’t exactly seen as equal Yelena due to the fact she’s a woman and Donald because he’s a black man in a white man’s world. They are quite alike, though Yelena throws out some slightly more fantastical concepts at Donald who to his credit does not dismiss them.

Laika also throws out some concepts at Able and Baker. The speech between them is simplistic, like an animal but never comes across as cheesy. The lettering helps give their voices a genuine feeling. Animals wouldn’t develop highly articulate speech but it’s clear that they absolutely have the emotional concepts. Thar’s part of the heart of the book, seeing these innocent animals face a concept which would leave most human a little bit crazy. Yet perhaps because they are not human they can deal with it better than we ever would. That seems to be an implication.

I could go on about the art for a very long time. I will say that there are a couple of pages with some honestly mesmerising details. Like a mosaic of different exotic animal parts – eyes, claws, fathers, feet, each one really detailed and each one really interesting. That stands out really well against the white clinical background. I could study that page forever. Just so, so good.

Primordial remains just such a really strong book. I love that there are so many layers to this in both the writing and the art. I feel like I can really delve deep into this book and always come out satisfied. This is a world I am very happy to get lost in.

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