Review: Space Captain #5 & #6 (Never Ever Press)

With the final two issue of Chris Baldie’s epic space adventure Space Captain, now firmly in our hands, it was a fantastic opportunity to re-read and truly appreciate this wonderful series from start to finish.

Publisher: Never Ever Press
Writer:Michael Park and Chris Baldie
Artist: Chris Baldie
Price: TBC from Chris’ Etsy Store

Our hero, the aptly name Space Captain, awakes from hyper sleep on the planet Foran 4 (somewhere between Foran 3 and Foran 5) only to discover he is the last person alive, thanks to a mysterious incident that wiped out the entire human population of the galaxy. With the help of a drunken prospector and on the run from a Kaztani bounty hunter (who wants Space Captain’s blood to use in a mysterious machine) Space Captain has been edging closer to earth with each adventure and with these final two issues he finally makes it – but not before escaping from a mysterious museum collection where he is the star attraction, as well as battling his Kaztani pursuer.

Looking back at this incredible series you cannot help but notice how much Chris Baldie and Michael Park’s work has grown in confidence and complexity across these 6 issues, and they have delivered one of the finest small press comics going. What starts off as a classic ‘last man in the galaxy’ sci-fi story has channelled the pulps of the 40s and 50s with little green men in funny space craft, monster filled jungle planets, and even a trip to the wild west. But it manages this without ever losing sight of the humanity of it’s lead. While the stories are often silly and outrageous (sometimes leaping around a bit too much to keep the readers attention in the long gaps between issues), it has ultimately been all about the final destination of earth, and the journey of it’s hero to find his home.

This humanity means Space Captain is about so much more than space adventuring. TThe story has a really poignant heart to it, with Space Captain desperate to get back to his family (including the daughter he has never known) and this is expanded beautifully in issue #5 to give his adventure real purpose and also a real emotional heft which really tugs at the heart strings.

At times in these issues we are also reminded that Space Captain isn’t afraid to be gritty and real, and with the final issue being quite action heavy, it comes with a physical edge that goes against the cartoonish look of the story to really add heft to the story-telling as the the severity of their actions really hit home to our heroes.

The other part of the Space Captain experience which has developed throughout the run has been Chris Baldie’s artwork. Not that it has ever been less than excellent! Looking back, issue one was looser and more informal, but still featured the trademark multi-panel pages packed full of depth and originality that we know and love. But as the series has gone on, it has become more polished, the detail finer and the colours in the final two issues really leap out at you. Baldie’s style has the kinetic motion and rubbery faces of Uderzo’s Asterisk, or more recently Lorenzo Etherington’s Monkey Nuts, and every page is a wonder. His fine detail, packed into tiny panels are use to perfection to add a granularity to every page, while also allowing him to use a half page panel like a double page splash to give certain moments real impact or pathos. And his use of space and lettering gives even the most mundane of panels a sprinkle of magic.

With Baldie’s other book I Rolled A One being picked up by BHP Comics for a re-release this year, then it is definitely going to be a strong year for the Scotsman. We hope that Space Captain gets a similar re-issue treatment as it would be incredible to see this collected together in one volume especially in a larger format – the printed issues of Space Captain are only A5 but they could easily sustain a graphic novel sized page or even larger in order to allow fans to truly appreciate every panel and page in all it’s glory.

In short, you could not ask for a better finale to a series than these last two issues of Space Captain. Packed full of action, emotion, humour and plenty of references back to the earliest moments of the series, this has been the perfect conclusion to one of our favourite small press series of all time. Reading  Space Captain has been an absolute pleasure and delight, and whenever we are asked to recommend a book which sums up just how exciting, creative and brilliant the UK small press and indie scene is, then Space Captain will be top of our list.