Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colourist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Steve Wands
The final issue of Primordial isn’t going to answer all your questions. It may not answer any of them depending on what those questions are. What it will do is move you as it has done before. It will draw you in emotionally and show the real undercurrent of emotion that has been underpinning this story all along. It’s not really been about the space race, it’s been about connection, about love and home and hope. In that regards this finale pulls those themes off better than ever before.
So, yes, those looking for obvious answers won’t find any here. There’s nothing spelled out here. That’s the beauty of this story. It’s immersive, it’s not a straight narrative, it’s about more than that. At the heart of the story is love. Love and hope and that’s really well realised. Anyone who ever had a connection to an animal will be able to relate.
At the end of the last issue poor Able was badly injured as the animals were attacked on their way home. We get some wonderfully evocative art as we see that there’s no end, only change, as once more higher beings reach out to Able. The use of cubes has been a portent part of the art for many issues and it’s used to great effect here in this final issue. Floating in a white space small cubes of bright colours appear and they show different aspects of Able’s journey to this point. Little glimpses of Able’s life.
I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say Able’s journey didn’t end last issue and that brave monkey plays a pivotal role this issue. It is Able who has the power of change more than the others because Able chooses. Able has made choices all along. Although the star of the show is Laika it is Able who enables and helps drive them forward when the others can’t. In a way it makes Able, the animal who suffered at the hands of humans, the most human himself.
The panels this issue are immersive. We have the animals and the spaceship juxtaposed with the present and the pilots and planes pursuing hem. It’s disjointed as it feels like something alien ripping through this alternate reality and getting to the heart of things. The pages really work in showing this weirdness. There are curved lines and we are well aware that what the animals are travelling in is quite different to the conventional planes. It’s as if we are glimpsing a different world through the lens of the other and seeing how the animals react.
Along with this we have Yelena, now an old woman and her granddaughter. Yelena has made it to the bunker and we finally get the confirmation of exactly what went down in that bunker with Yelena, Doctor Pembrook and the Russian army. I was not surprised as it seemed quite obvious what had happened but it’s interesting to finally learn of Donald Pembrook’s overall fate. Yelena’s face holds much emotion too as we can finally appreciate what has been sacrificed to get her girl Laika home.
The cubes continue to dominate as they tumble through the pages. They really do reshape the world. They are so surreal it’s a bit like looking at a picture that’s been broken into cubes and trying to work out what whole the cubes would make as a picture. The images on the cubes are familiar and disjointed. They surround the characters, magnify the world. It’s so very effective.
I can’t spoil the ending but I will say it made me quite emotional. It feels satisfying. It’s just a single moment but it’s a moment that resonates. Everything before and after is no longer important because everything is just that one moment. It’s a truly beautiful ending.
This is a comic that sounded like a straightforward science fiction story, alternate history, government coverups, scientists trying to find the truth. Indeed the first couple of issues really read like that, but to read as just that misses the fundamental themes and emotion running through it. It’s about a dog who was lost and just wanted to get home to her human. The story feels like it morphed totally naturally into something much more than a straight forward tale. As it became something more than a cold war tale.
There’s been many fictionalised ideas and stories about what happened to those animals shot into space as sacrificial pioneers but none have touched me quite the way this has. The art has taken me places I wouldn’t have thought and has been visually stunning in parts. I know some people may not be satisfied by the ending but for me it works. It works because there’s nothing stronger than love and home.
Here’s to you Laika, Able & Baker. Thank you.