Comic Commentary

Comic Commentary #1: “A Distant Soil”

This is gonna be a long ramble, just so you’re warned.

I’ve always held admiration for space operas and the mecha genre, some of it for the wrong reasons. Who doesn’t love a good dose of alien civilizations (wherein we are the aliens), political ideologies that span the galaxy, racial conflicts (not surprised to see that we humans are most likely the inferior race), and wonky technology that just make sense in worlds far, far away? Wouldn’t it be nice to see what it’s like to escape our own world for once and discover a system much larger, more complex, more intriguing than our own?

Well…those sound nice. But I, a shallow couch potato with a bad case of lookism, mentioned that some of it is for the wrong reasons, right? Because it’s all for the pretty dudes.

No, seriously. I have never really found myself swayed by conventionally-attractive men (not unless I’ve probably known them long enough personally, or something) so you can blame or thank “Macross Frontier”‘s protagonist for giving me that awakening. And “Gundam 00” and “∀ Gundam” as well. Or, heck, “Legend of Galactic Heroes,” perhaps a select few from “Cowboy Bebop” and “Toward the Terra,” oh thank you Lord for blessing the world with such marvelous character designs and personalities! (Okay, that sounded shallow.)

…Ooookay, I am going off-topic at this point. Now, did I ever mention, with much emphasis, that I adore epic space opera stories (for, again, stupid reasons)? And remember that one post I made about Colleen Doran? Well, dear reader, you can view it if you’re interested. Other than that, let me take you to the world of beautiful worldbuilding, crazy plotlines, a heartwrenching interplay of politics and personal virtues, and even more androgynous dudes! (And women. And nonbinaries. Honestly, I dig androgynous people in general.)

A Distant Soil is a pencil-drawn 80s-era space-opera bio-warfare fantasy-politics majesty first thought up by Doran since she was twelve, and it had seen its own fair share of struggles such as meddling executives, calls for formulaic plotlines, queer-unfriendly communities, and meddling executives from queer-unfriendly communities who called for formulaic plotlines (not to worry, you can check out concept art on her website or even read it for free!). And the 42-volume plot, so to speak is…kinda wack in a way I like. (Not to mention, the title is so catchy and cool that I want whatever she smoked.)

On a world far, far away from our own, is this crystalline metropolis of a planet called Ovanan where an alien race of psionic androgynous beauties live, eat, drink, and watch other worlds burn under the power of a corrupt government called the Hierarchy. The Hierarchy, meanwhile, channel their power through this entity called the Avatar, who selects worthy candidates for its successor via a “do-or-die” eenie-minie-moe, and often times they would have to deal with outliers called Disruptors, who wield chaotic energy that could, duh, disrupt the flow of energy throughout the system. Of course, this one crystal-harvesting outlier and Disruptor named Aeren landed himself into hot sh*t upon a suspicious death of a fellowman he was secretly involved with, and had to flee all the way to Earth to avoid the Hierarchy’s wrath where he married a human woman and fathered a pair of future intrepid teenage protagonists who, in turn, landed themselves in hot sh*t after breaking out of a mental hospital and ended up accidentally uncovering the brutal truth of the Hierarchy’s sugarcoated, decadent regime with the help of this gorgeous Ovanan secret-agent sort named Rieken, who secretly plans to launch a bio-warfare rebellion against his vain, beautiful and corrupt people (think Purple Haze Feedback but blown up to a planetary proportion, I have my reasons for adoring that extraterrestrial gentleman). You know where this goes now, eh? Aw yeah, a secret war against fascist space fairies, baby! (And did I mention that the Round Table–yes, THAT Round Table from Chretien de Troyes’ 12th-century romance–is involved? Araki would have nodded in approval.)

The characters are quite memorable, and for the love of God their unorthodox character designs are amazing as well–really, androgyny needs more appreciation. You have clever copper-haired Hunter Liana Scott and her temperamental blond brother Jason Scott, psionic half-human children of Aeren. Then you have their human buddies: the teenaged Brent Donewitz and policeman Antonio Minetti, along with the literally fiery Ovanan runaway D’mer and the very enigmatic Rieken and Bast. There are so many other characters that I can’t really remember their names, but trust me when I say you’ll either love them, or love to hate on them (Sere and Niniri, for instance—you can get to their parts soon enough). And as for the comic itself, it was one of the pioneers of its time, in regards to its heavy underlying themes and its progressive views, to the point it was listed among the six groundbreaking sci-fi comics by Vector, a journal by the British Science Fiction Association, and even spawned trading cards, fan clubs, pinups and limited editions.

So what is there to get from any of this? Well, dear reader, the issues tackled in A Distant Soil are somehow synonymous with today’s issues. I won’t make a mention since I can’t be bothered to shade anyone, but there is a blurred line that goes between people who push through any means to keep their perfect utopia, and people who fall into the maw of corruption. Also, crystals are awesome enough that you can chuck them at someone’s head to heal their spirit of negative thoughts. And androgyny honestly needs more appreciation in the modern world and its nitpicky conventional standards. Shoot, I have no idea.

So there you have it, I hope you tolerated enough of what you read to get the gist of it. And bona nox for now!

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