Stone Warriors and Space Fantasy: Should You Be Reading ‘Aquapunk: The First Law’?
When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it's hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there's so much to choose from that it's sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With 'Should I Be Reading... ?', ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
Aquapunk: The First Law is a space-fantasy webcomic by writer/artist Lo, currently on its first year online --- though it dates back further than that. It centers on magical constructs of solid stone, the war they fight in, the serially reincarnated overclass they serve, and the crimes that a small band of them are falsely accused of.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Set on a world of unknown location and origin, Aquapunk: The First Law concerns giant statue-like beings called the Faithful. The Faithful are a warrior and labor caste created to serve the immortal, moneyed elite of their society. They are able to wipe out entire squadrons of non-Faithful single-handedly, but they are not immortal – the ability to snatch a soul back from the dead is reserved for those that created and control them.
One of the Faithful, Coron, begins to question the point of it all after a confrontation with one of his people's enemies. Circumstances quickly conspire to force Coron and several of his fellow Faithful on the run, accused of crimes they did not commit. Robbed of their purpose, they set out to find a new one.
WHO'S IT BY?
Lo, AKA Milo Keen, is a Los Angeles resident and political activist who has been working on Aquapunk since 2006. Lo began inventing the world, its characters, and its language shortly after a brush with a linguistics class and later, a Michael Bay movie about toy robots from space.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
The artwork is heavily inspired by Mike Mignola, but tackling a subject matter that's far afield from Hellboy's urban fantasy, trading instead in a fully realized world of space-fantasy that lets its background details linger until it's time for the full reveal.
The writing is expressly political without being a mirror for real-world events; the Faithful are stand-ins for any class serving an elite. Despite the Faithful being nearly invincible war machines, they don't return from death the way their masters do --- yet they're the ones sent to war.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Fans of Mike Mignola will find much to love here, with an artist that shows a strong sense of storytelling, composition, and use of color and line weight, to create artwork that bleeds atmosphere.
Fans of Transformers will notice that the Faithful themselves bear more than a passing resemblance to the robots in disguise, with helmet-like heads and simple faces that still convey a great deal of emotion. The Faithful are living statues, but they have jetpacks and rifles, in addition to having to deal with the occasional magic curse.
There are very few things in this world not improved by the addition of a jetpack.
Like the currently running Transformers comics from IDW, Aquapunk: The First Law is a story laden with politics, with the main characters searching for a purpose in a life that, until now, was defined by warfare.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
UPDATE: An earlier version of this article gave the artist's name as LoFrequency instead of Lo.