After the excitement of our year end polls, we return to our regular review schedule here on Pipedream Comics, with a look at Tales of Fractured Worlds, the follow up to Roddy McCance’s successful mental health anthology Tales of the Fractured Mind. With a new selection of sci-fi stories, a new band of talented artists and a new underlying message focusing on the environmental problems going on around us, can Tales of Fractured Worlds repeat its predecessor’s success?
Publisher: Fracture Press
Writer: Roddy McCance
Artist: Drew Moss, Thodoris Laourdekis, Roland Kalnins, Marco Perugino, Kuba Wisniewski, George Kambadais, Artom Ognov
Price: £9.99 from fracturepress.bigcartel.com
Tales of Fractured Worlds is a collection of seven tales, all written by comic creator Roddy McCance. Like his previous work, Tales of Fractured Mind, McCance has written an incredibly varied selection of stories here, but this time they are all sci-fi tales with a message of environmentalism under pinning them all.
Although mainly sci-fi themed, some certainly push towards other genres, such as Earthbreaker, which is about a man charged with preparing a new world for the human race. Our hero comes to question his mission when his predecessor’s journal reveals some possible harsh truths behind his role. With this story there is more of a psychological horror vibe to it, which Roland Kalnins art, (while looking a bit jarring to get on board with at first) helps sell the paranoid/claustrophobic sense with its colours. This story also better delivers McCance’s overall message of environmentalism into the narrative, as the story subtly implies the human race’s current stance on the environment, in that we think it easier to progress than to try and save what we have. (Or that we will do whatever it takes to move forward, even destroy all in our path).
Unfortunately, while all of the titles are well written, engaging and enjoyable, our main problem with them is that the environmentalist message, which the book prides itself on, can feel lost under the layers. Violet is a perfect example of this, as it follows a young girl’s attempt to find her father during a major (possibly environmental) disaster. This is an enjoyable and deeply engrossing read, which is also a little heartfelt as we see the world through this child’s eyes. Drew Moss’s art, combined with some dark, earthy colours, gave the whole story this real gritty, dirty, end of the world look and fitted well with the tone. However, while the story and the art were good, the environmental theme/message struggled to appear as the tale seemed more as a war story than a natural disaster. Something not helped by the vagueness of said disaster. Of course, this didn’t stop it from being a thoroughly good tale.
Overall though, this separation from the messaging has little effect on the enjoyment when compared to the quality of the overall writing, which is only enhanced by the glorious array of artistic talent on offer. This is best exemplified by Cathedral of Fire, which sees a crew set down on a strange planet to investigate a distress call. However, upon reaching below the icy surface in search of the signal, they find a strange church, an alien and a long dead body in one of their spacesuits. Although the story didn’t engage us as much as others, the art looks stunning with the early scenes having a nice dark tone, akin to scenes from the Alien movie, while the scenes upon entering the water have a real ethereal beauty where the use of the green colour gives the landscape a look similar to that seen in Low. During this tale, the environmental message, while not seemingly obvious does hint with the final line of a ‘ghost of Christmas future’-esque look at our current trajectory.
All in all, while there does appear to be a subjective lack of the overall message which is expected from this project, Tales of Fractured Worlds is an incredibly enjoyable, engaging and high quality read which lives up to its predecessor’s reputation. Roddy McCance and his team of artists have done a great job with this title and, all being well, a follow up based on another socially conscious focus won’t be far behind. Based on these stories, that would certainly be welcome.