Chimpanzee Complex Vol 2 – the epic sci-fi series continues
Written by Richard Marazano, art by Jean-Michel Ponzio
“I love big , epic Sci-Fi. Always have. And there just isn’t enough of it in comics to keep me satisfied. Every so often something comes along though that gets it absolutely right, does everything big Sci-Fi is meant to do – all the wonder, all the majesty of space, all the complex technical stuff, all the unanswered questions. And that’s exactly what The Chimpanzee Complex does. It’s Big, epic Sci-Fi done absolutely right.“
That’s what I said about Chimpanzee Complex Volume One; Paradox. And although this second volume isn’t quite up there with the brilliant big, epic sci-fi-ness of the first, (very much down to it being the middle volume in a trilogy) it’s still pushing all the right buttons.
Volume 1 saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin fall back to Earth in 2035 and followed the subsequent investigation to uncover who or what came back onboard Apollo 11 in 1969. Astronaut Helen Freeman suddenly sees her unfulfilled dreams coming true as she’s preped for launch on a mission to the moon to investigate the strange events of Apollo 11 – but it’s a dream that could destroy any fragile relationship she still has with her daughter Sofia.
(As Helen goes away to fulfill her dreams, she may be losing her child forever, a small, lonely victim of a dream beyond the stars. From Chimapanzee Complex Volume 2, published by Cinebook)
Helen lifts off with her crew on a mission that starts at the Moon but will lead them, unexpectedly and surprisingly in this second volume to Mars, where a secret and ancient Russian base holds staggering, scientifically bewildering secrets and a very familiar face from the Russian space program.
The story is split, just as in the first volume, into two; space and domestic; Helen and Sofia, mother and daughter, fulfilled and betrayed. All her life Sofia has had to come to terms with having to share her mother with her love of space, but this mission is a disappointment too far. The grounding of the story in the simple reality of Sofia’s world acts as a counterpoint to the huge events happening in space, creating a very human and emotionally real tale – this is sci-fi in the mold of Clarke and his ilk – where the technology and the wonder is enough to make the story awe-inspiring.
It doesn’t need huge laser battles across the page, just Marazano’s brilliant writing and Ponzio’s gorgeously detailed photo-realistic artwork that’s equally adapt at capturing the human emotions of mother and child and the epic, fantastic sweep of the grandeur of space.
(And there’s Helen’s dream, laid out majestically before her. Fantastic and fantastical artwork by Ponzio from Chimapanzee Complex Volume 2, published by Cinebook)
The volume ends with far more questions than answers and we’re rapidly moving into fascinating, incredible science territory – as this excellent, tech-heavy sci-fi thriller reaches it’s conclusion, (hopefully without descending into ridiculous amounts of pseudo-science) in Volume 3, out in July 2010. It’s an excellent grand sci-fi series and highly recommended.