Death Among The Stars: Should You Be Reading ‘The Fuse’? [Sci-Fi Week]
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Murder. In space. On a giant space station, orbiting the earth. Just because it’s the future doesn’t mean things are better. People are still people, and they’re still petty and angry and jealous --- and sometimes they kill.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The Fuse follows Klem Ristovych, a quick-tempered homicide detective on the Fuse, an orbiting space station. Klem’s gets a new partner, rookie Ralph Dietrich, a German born cop who volunteered to be stationed on the Fuse. This makes him instantly untrustworthy, as no one really wants to be there. Klem and Ralph banter, bicker, and investigate a murder or three, while Klem also tries to figure out what’s up with Ralph and why he’s here.
It’s a police procedural, in space. Later story arcs involve illegal maglev bike races, terrorism, and more good old fashioned murder.
WHO’S IT BY?
The Fuse is written by Antony Johnston and drawn by Justin Greenwood, with colors by Shari Chankhamma. Ed Brisson provided letters for the first six issues, followed by Ryan Ferrier.
Johnston is one of those writers that straddles many different fields. He’s written graphic novels and comic series, from superhero work on Daredevil to the post-apocalyptic Wasteland, to the historical spy thriller The Coldest City. Each time he takes on a new genre, he masters it. His video game writing is as dark as his comics work; he’s written Dead Space, ZombiU, Shadow of Mordor, and more. In case that wasn’t enough, he’s also written books, hosts podcasts, and makes music under the name Silencaeon.
Justin Greenwood is an incredible illustrator, primarily working on creator-owned comics for Image and Oni Press. He worked with Johnson on Wasteland, and has also illustrated Stumptown, Resurrection, and Stringers.
Shari Chankhamma has written and illustrated several creator-owned comics, including The Sisters’ Luck, The Clarence Principle, and Pavlov’s Dream. In addition to The Fuse, she’s colored Sheltered and Kill Shakespeare.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
This is not your typical sci fi. It’s really a crime comic that happens to take place on a space station. The fancy future technology is incidental to the story. That’s not to say the fact that they’re on a space station orbiting the earth is unimportant, but placing the comic in the future allows us to see how little people change. This isn’t Star Trek. The world’s problems haven’t all been solved. We have the same problems, and some new ones; we’re just not on Earth anymore.
Greenwood’s illustrations really hammer home how normal and mundane technology is on the Fuse. Sometimes you can’t even tell they’re on a space station, it just looks like a city in the 70s. Shari Chankhamma’s colors add to that --- everything is muted greens, blues, and grey.
The focus of the art is on people and their faces. Like Klem and Ralph, we’re looking to see who is lying or hiding something. Greenwood helps us figure that out through expressive (or sometimes expressionless) faces and body language.
Klem is really what makes The Fuse special, however. She’is the kind of main character you rarely see in comics. She’s older, in her 50s or 60s. She’s grumpy. She’s a great cop. She’s avoiding retirement because retirement is boring. She’s not defined by her relationship to men, or by being a mother. She’s a woman, doing her job, investigating murder in space. It’s fantastic to see this kind of character centered in a story.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Fans of Homicide: Life on the Street and Battlestar Galactica. Anyone who loves an odd couple or a really good mystery. People old enough to get the joke when Klem calls Ralph Dietrich "Marlene."
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
The Fuse is available in print from a variety of retailers and digitally on Comixology. The first six issues are also available in Comixology Unlimited. The issues have been collected into three trade paperbacks. Issue #22 will be published October 12, 2016, with issue #23 following on November 9.