Written and Illustrated by Lucas Maragnon
Published by Dark Horse Comics
In honor of the heat from the midwest summer I’m gonna give you some Hell courtesy of the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics. This publisher has been around for some time and has clawed out an existence in the shadows of DC and Marvel and that’s no small achievement. Many Dark Horse titles are based on big film franchises like Star Wars or Predator or a hybrid like Hellboy. The high profile of these properties no doubt helps to sell issues to the public. There are original series to be had as well and Hellcyon is the brand spanking new one to roar off the shelves.
Part of my summer reading schedule has always included some really exciting military science fiction. The kid in me will always love cool machines blowing the crap out of other cool machines in alien environments. This is Hellcyon. A complete creation of Lucas Maragnon, Hellcyon has all the elements that made the movie Avatar a hit. Apparently the multinational corporations in space are no more benevolent than they are on planet. I knew this ride would be fun from the cover of the first issue. A really bitchin’ hi-tech bike is in the foreground roaring down a city street festooned with campaign posters but oddly empty of people. Behind the bike is a battle armored figure firing an automatic weapon as the shells sprang off the tarmac all around the bike. The driver, a teen in shades, is cool like he does this every day, and practically on his shoulders is another teenager in utilitarian orange military armor looking frantic as he hangs onto the bike with all he’s got. Oh yes. I’m in.
Halcyon is a moon, colonized by the corporations a while back. The colonists made up of hard scrabble workers decides it wants independence from the oligarchy of multinationals and corrupt politicians on Earth. This is pretty much how these things tend to shake out. The workers are oppressed and demand a voice in their fates but the companies have got mercs with guns who kill civilians with all the restraint of a space-Black Water. Our main character, Nika Raguza is a cadet at the space military academy learning how to oppress those like himself when he gets an urgent message to return home to Halcyon. His parents are in trouble. When Raguza arrives he is whisked to Columbus High School, the state welfare boarding school. Think of it as a place where the corporate command can keed colonists in line by having all the teens in one convenient place. Within moments of his arrival a particle beam of immense power bombards the city from the fleet parked above in geosynchronous orbit. Armor and troops arrive next to wipe out the demoralized populace.
Maragnon’s writing and art style complement Hellcyon even though a semi-manga take is a hard sell to me. For years my sons have tried to get me to like anime and mostly it just looks like what I read once, that Japan’s animators are getting even with us for making a proud warrior people the industrial gnomes of the Orient serving American interests. This is why we are portrayed as big headed and large-eyed in the manga/anime style. Our children buy their mockery of those that have diminished them with the lure of material wealth. The gnashing of teeth from the Bushido made quaint can be heard in many of the mass-marketed cheapo pieces of animexcrement that can be slid down the chute of painful executive rectal itches. That being said about the majority, who but a putz cannot love Akira. Hellcyon, with it’s space hardware is like that. The art is smooth and when the story moves it moves with it. It’s clean and tarnished at the same time. There’s a great tunnel chase sequence when the hi-tech bike goes bipedal and armored ass is kicked and lives squeak by for a bit more survival. The first issue ends in a jumble of action with a handful of teens and four “jackets” (the advanced battle armor) on the run and heading into a gravity storm as the moon nears the planet. It’s explained as the moon being “squeezed like an orange”. I like elements of science in my science fiction otherwise it’s just more crap that’s just made up and I tend to appreciate thought going into the tale telling. The mercs want them and are gathering a hunting party of killers to track and kill them.
The second issue cover, a jacket looms all painted in cammy and labeled “Tin Machine” while the teens are gathered at it’s massive feet. Raguza brings in another jacket before the storm hits and the kids find shelter from the storm in the deep jungle. The first panel depicts how bad things got under the corporations with an overhead shot of the school parking lot with the bodies of hundreds of teens layed out and blood spatters beneath all of them. In case you might have thought it as resistance by “terrorists” which required this massacre you get to see an interrogation where the man in charge puts a bullet to a pretty little blonde girl’s head. After all, haven’t we learned by now that the wheels of commerce are perfect for breaking butterflies on?
By the end of the second issue we are good and pissed at the murderous mercs and waiting for our first confrontation between runaway “insurgents” and the hunter-killer team sent to eliminate them. With the grave storm finished and no longer providing them cover they will have to stand and fight. Raguza snatches a combat drug tossed through the air, sets his jaw in determination and calmly says, “Plan B”. Sign me up. Raguza and crew are going to kill some killers with some really fun toys and that’s hot fun in the summertime to me.
by Bill Hilburn