For everyone who wants to create a long lasting legacy in indie comics, there are two goals which much be achieved: the first is to publish their debut comic and then follow it up with enough issues to fully tell their story; and the second is to collect that series into a full graphic novel. This week, we check out the graphic novel of Future from Tom Woodman, Rupert Smissen and Aditya Bidikar after previously reviewing their first issue which they released for free. Have their future endeavours bore fruit for this series or will it be the end of the world for this team?
Publisher: Cast Iron Books
Writer: Tom Woodman
Artist: Rupert Smissen (Art), Aditya Bidikar (Letterer)
Price: Currently funding on Kickstarter
Future tells the story of Kay and Murray Mielniczuk, whose happy lives together is forever threatened when Murray is diagnosed with a terminal illness. However, in this broken world the pair are given hope in the form of a special mission which involves a one way trip to the future, all it needs is a dying astronaut and an engineer wife just desperate enough to save her soulmate. However, upon undertaking their last chance, the pair find themselves in a world which is far more broken than the one they left. Now, with nothing left to lose and Murray getting progressively closer to the end, the pair must traverse this ‘new’ world all in the hope that they can find a cure.
Tom Woodman has written a terrific story within the pages of Future that, despite its sci-fi setting, is primarily a love story. In this regard, Future reminds me of the Image series Alex + Ada as Woodman does much the same as that series by creating fully rendered, complex characters who are perfect for each other. In Future, while Woodman only utilises two characters and so little focus leaves them, their dynamic, contrasting personalities and emotional connection feels so real that you can’t help but empathise with their plight and in a way, smile at their tender moments.
Of course, the characters are not the only thing Woodman gets right as the pacing and flow of the story feels spot on, rarely slowing for longer than is necessary and running consistently until the very end where it ramps up as we reach the conclusion. In this respect, I was reminded of Markosia series Zero Jumper which also seemed to speed it’s way to the end, although here the ending, while also abrupt, feels incredibly fitting for the story we have been treated to. That said, the story’s pacing isn’t perfect as it feels like it lags just after the halfway point, as we see an extended sequence of Murray’s delusions. While it seems relevant as it delivers backstory on her and Kay’s relationship, maybe visual cues in the earlier pages, such as home photos and videos, might have done the job while freeing up some pages. Of course, it is a minor bump in and otherwise (inter)stellar story.
The art, meanwhile, matches the writing’s high quality perfectly thanks to Rupert Smissen’s beautiful digital style. His work captures the beauty of the story perfectly while presenting it in a stylised way, as if merging Jonathan Luna’s with Clayton Crain’s very digital style seen in Ghost Rider. This results in page after page of fantastic visuals, such as an image of a flooded NASA building and a futuristic rendering of Norway’s Seed Vault in Svalbard. Of course, where Smissen really shines is in his depiction of the characters as he draws both Kay and Murray as such beautiful, yet believable, forms and imbues them with such a visual sense of kindness and love that it certainly helped me connect to Woodman characterisation of them both. That said, if these visuals weren’t already enough, Smissen adds that little extra by ensuring a seemingly accurate level of muscle wastage in Murray to give her such a genuine appearance of a woman in the twilight stages of a terminal illness.
Finally, credit must be given to Aditya Bidikar for the solid lettering which not only comes across as seamless throughout the story but also helps imbue a sense of character into the various automated/A.I. voices that we meet, making feel like additional real people within this story.
Future was a terrific comic with great potential when I reviewed the first issue but Woodman, Smissen and Aditya Bidikar have surpassed my expectations with the entire story to make a truly wonderful first story about bravery, faith and, above all love. With a tremendous hair-pulling story and breathtaking visuals, these three creators have crafted an incredibly faultless title to start their respective careers, and one that could leave a hole in your soul if you don’t take the chance to read it.