Often times when I’m reading a comic in reparation for a review, I try to find the larger significance. The comic is more then just its story, it’s the act of reading, disseminating the information, and identifying the subtext. For many of the books available there is a world of hidden meaning located just below the surface that requires the participant to look beyond the plot and story. So when I read Cosmic Wars: The Arthenian Star #0, I was looking for the underlying message that would be the focus of this review. Instead of finding hidden cultural metaphors, or implied societal critiques, I found something just as significant: a comic that was on-face entertaining and fun to read.
Cosmic Wars #0 is the prologue to a larger and more complex story. It is the tale of a galaxy filled with heroes and villains, monsters and warriors. The lines that divide the two are clear; the heroes speak of duty and obligation, and the villain sits on a throne and talks in the third person. Issue #0 begins with the destruction of the kingdom of Krystalia by the forces of evil. The last king, moments before he is killed by an army of monsters, orders one of his loyal warriors to escape the dying planet with a powerful mystical object called the Star of Arthenia. 100 years later, Princess Reyna, heir to the throne of Krystalia and a leader in the Alliance against the forces of evil, is on a quest to find the star and use its power to bring peace to the galaxy.
The book is a combination of epic premises and simple execution. This is not a criticism; it is actually a sign of the book’s strengths. The creator is establishing a fantasy universe filled with interesting characters and species in the midst of a galactic war. Whereas some creators create their own worlds as a vehicle to make a point, Cosmic Wars invites the reader to explore this universe just for the act of exploring. There are no hidden parallels to the real world, this book is meant for simple entertainment in a fantastic world. The moments that may seem over-dramatic or cheesy, actually serve to invite the reader to enjoy the book for what it is, not what they want it or expect it to be.
The artwork also mirrors the dual approach mentioned above. The backgrounds are detailed and impressive, clearly representative of the benefits of computer generated artwork and the skill of the creator. There are originally designed spaceships and vehicles coupled with impressive images of galaxies and planets. The main characters, however, are drawn in a slightly different style and their appearance comes off as cartoonish in comparison with the backgrounds. This reinforces the idea that the story is more about fun and entertainment then something grander. This style is reminiscent of certain manga, where highly conceptualized backgrounds are used to oft-set simplistic character art.
Cosmic Wars is definitely a breath of fresh air in a medium where independent creators’ reach often is longer then their grasp (and I write that, not in a snobby elitist way, but as a fellow aspiring comic creator who has written many books that tried too hard to be Watchmen without admitting that they were trying to be Watchmen). This comic is what it is, and when accepted on its terms, offers the reader plenty of fun and entertainment. I will definitely be on the lookout for the next issue when it comes out.