We all know the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” but come on, how else do you pick a book??? Well, I guess there is word of mouth and blurbs on the back covers and reviews etc. But by and large our first impressions of a book are formed by the title and by the cover. Sometimes this works and leads us to great finds and other times not so much.
Now when it comes to comic books though, its all about the art right?
So inevitably the cover plays a huge role in catching someone’s eye and getting them to pick up something they otherwise would have passed over. While I have learned that it’s not uncommon for the comic book art to be completely different from the inside art (FABLES! You deceptive fiend!) and sometimes there are different covers for the same issue that may be confusing and lead to duplicate purchases (Stew?) I must admit that I use the cover art to quickly pass by many a book in search of one that catches my eye.
Case in point…I was casually looking through Hoopla’s comic book catalog (if you don’t know what Hoopla is check out the side bar) and this caught my eye…
I mean, I think that’s pretty cool looking. The colors are en-pointe and I was immediately intrigued by this young girl (with awesome hair) suspended upside down high above the city. Is she a daredevil that jumps off of skyscrapers? Is she in the military? Obviously with a title like Skyward one can assume it’s something to do with being in the sky. The subtitle reinforces this, My Low-G Life.
Wait!!! Isn’t it more “G’s” when you are up in the sky? Or maybe that’s just when you’re spinning? I don’t know, I’m no astrophysicist but Low-G seems weird right?
Well, lucky for me Hoopla has a little blurb about the book to read before you download it so hear I learn that Low-G is in reference to a cataclysmic event in which the earths gravitational pull is reduced to a fraction of what it is normally, sending untethered objects, animals and humans free floating into space leaving behind loved ones and the rest of humanity to try to figure out how to survive in this new reality. Sounds pretty good right? Let’s read on, shall we?
Fast forward 20 years and we meet Willa, who has known nothing other than this new reality as she was just a newborn when G-day occurred. She’s grown up literally floating between buildings, working to support herself and her father. Her dad, Nathan, was a scientist who not only predicted G-day’s imminent coming but was working on a potential fix for the issue. However, ever since G-day he has been paralyzed by fear and regret having lost Willa’s mom to the sky–he can’t even step foot out of their apartment.
Willa dreams of traveling, going outside of Chicago, seeing other cities and landscapes. But she can’t possibly leave her father. So when she finds out her father used to be work partner’s with the incredibly successful Roger Barrow, she heads down to The Streets to persuade him to help her dad. While her dad was working on a fix for Low-G, Roger took a different approach–on how to survive in Low-G. In fact, he’s built an empire on it–and is none to happy to hear his old partner is:
1) still alive
2) claims to have the fix that would restore Earth’s gravity.
Threats ensue, Willa’s friend/crush/fellow Upper Edison gets kidnapped by Barrow trying to entice her to turn in her father. Nathan confesses to her that he wasn’t able to save her mom and was too cowardly to even really try but won’t let Edison come to harm for him. He is ready to turn himself over to Barrow when he takes his first steps out into the low-G skies only to find himself needing to be rescued by his daughter. Willa proves herself as a badass by not only rescuing Daddy but putting it to Barrow and saving Edison along the way.
So, I HATE to LOVE everything I read but seriously this was a pretty cool book and I am happy I picked it up. The plot wasn’t anything outlandish but there was enough of a spin on things to keep it interesting. It also wasn’t drawn out, the book moved a long at a good clip and didn’t beleaguer the point. I’ll try to do the same as I talk about the key points in the book, in my humble opinion.
The whole anti-gravity thing–it’s pretty crazy when you really think about it. I’m sure we’ve all imagined ourselves floating around a spaceship peeking out the window ala Apollo 13 with the Earth miles and miles below. But imagine having no gravity here on earth–insane! Not only would you risk literally floating away if you weren’t tethered but nothing would work as it normally does. Roger Barrow talks about this briefly with Willa before he goes all “I need to kill your father” on her. Everything from agriculture to transport to production lines–all needed to be re-worked and reinvented to work in the low-G world.
But it wasn’t just man made things that wouldn’t function as normal. Case in point–Willa decides to go out in a major rainstorm to try to rescue Edison because even “Barrow won’t expect me to do anything that crazy.” Think about it, rain comes down–but not now. Instead it becomes a monster water blob passing through the skies–perfectly capable of drowning any person who happens to get caught in it!
Taking a slightly more philosophical bend, the dichotomy between Nathan and Roger’s approach to the impending G-day echoes so many of the differences in how we all approach change–do we focus our efforts on restoring the past or do we invent ways to exist in the future. How do we hold on to what we cherish without letting it trap us in the past? How do we look to the future, anticipate and invent ways to improve ourselves without casting aside what has come before? I don’t know that there is any situation where this is 100% black and white, usually there has to be some ying/yang and balance.
Ok, let’s talk about Willa.
This is somewhat a coming of age story–while she has grown up ahead of her time to take care of her family, she yearns to break out on her own for the first time in her life. Who can’t relate to that?!? While she finds herself in over her head she is brave, quick witted and resourceful–a great example for young women to emulate. My only beef was near the end of the book when she is floating off into space–I was waiting and waiting for her to pull some surprise out of her pocket and save herself but aye, she was rescued by a man! Granted, it was her father so we’ll give out a pass for that one.
And of course I can’t end this blog post without talking about the art. It is, after all, what caught my eye and got me to borrow this book. Thankfully the quality seen on the cover carried through the whole book and was a great blend of cartooning/realistic impressions by Lee Garbett. But I must shout out to the true star of the show in my mind is the colorist Antonio Fabela. I mean, look at this…damn that’s gorgeous!
Overall Grade: A
I’m in for the recently (Feb 2019) released trade Vol 2 : Here there be Dragonflies