From writer Stephen Graham Jones (The Only Good Indians, My Heart Is A Chainsaw) and artist Davide Gianfelice (Northlanders) comes a story about saving the world by killing America with Earthdivers #1. Featuring colors from Joana Lafuente and lettering by Steve Wands, this debut issue offers up a brilliant premise from a perspective we desperately need more of in our fiction. With a compelling and tense script and beautifully detailed visuals, Earthdivers is off to a stellar start.
“The year is 2112, and it’s the apocalypse exactly as expected: rivers receding, oceans rising, civilization crumbling. Humanity has given up hope, except for a group of outcast Indigenous survivors who have discovered a time travel portal in a cave in the middle of the desert and figured out where the world took a sharp turn for the worst: America. Convinced that the only way to save the world is to rewrite its past, they send one of their own on a bloody, one-way mission back to 1492 to kill Christopher Columbus before he reaches the so-called New World. But taking down an icon is no easy task, and his actions could prove devastating for his friends in the future.”
Writing & Plot
Stephen Graham Jones, mostly known for his horror titles, jumps into the comics medium with an apocalyptic time-travel tale with a specific Native American perspective in Earthdivers #1. The plot’s main core – “kill Columbus, thereby preventing America, thereby saving the world,” is a unique premise made up of familiar tropes. What Jones is able to do in his script is implement very human character complexities we seldom get from time travel stories. The character who is selected to go back in time is sent because he knows the most languages and, supposedly, would be able to blend in the best. However, when planted on a sailing ship in 1492 with the job of blending in as a sailor, it’s amazing just how much can fall apart. Watching the lead character struggle and cave to baser instincts in order to stay on mission is like watching a fascinating and intense human experiment – which is exactly what great sci-fi often is.
Jones’s experience as a novelist makes itself known with this comic book debut. As comics go, this issue is on the wordier side – but no words feel wasted. Jones stuffs a lot of info and context into the pages of this comic, and while it may be dizzying for some readers not used to denser comics, it’s still a very well-constructed script. If there is a nitpick to be made, it’s that the in-story “present” plotline isn’t as interesting as what’s going on in 1492. Not that what’s going on with the supporting cast isn’t engaging – it is – but what’s going on in that apocalyptic era is clearly still developing and will no doubt become more interesting as the story progresses. Stephen Graham Jones nails his comics debut with a complex and intense script in this opening chapter.
Earthdivers #1 will immediately draw readers’ attention with the stunning detail and visual direction of artist Davide Gianfelice. His characters are full of expression and each person has their own unique design that makes them memorable. Both timelines have appropriately detailed sets, from the desolate rocky landscape of a dying Earth to the decks of Columbus’s ships, every set piece is detailed and draws readers into the world with ease. Gianfelice’s sequential direction comes off as natural despite being deceptively complex. Smaller panels are inlaid over larger ones to add context and extra details that improve the depth of the story. Conversations are carefully constructed to get the most out of character interactions. Gianfelice’s work here really makes the most of all the info given in Jones’s script. The colors from Joana Lafuente are deep and vivid, finishing off the comic’s stunning high-fidelity yet tonally complex aesthetic. The real gem in her work is how she uses sunlight. From the warm red sunset over barren rock in the “present” timeline to the glaring heat over the sea in the past, Lafuente utilizes sunlight (and moonlight) to noticeably influence the color palette and overall visual experience on every page. The lettering from Steve Wands has a distinct hand drawn style to it while still being very readable, making for the perfect punctuation point on this comic. Overall, Earthdivers is off to a strong start with an excellent visual presentation.
Earthdivers #1 is a complex and unique piece of time travel sci-fi. Stephen Graham Jones enters the comics scene with a dense but fascinating and well-paced comic with tasty dash of political commentary, as every great science fiction story should have. The visuals from Davide Gianfelice and Joana Lafuente are well-directed and stunningly detailed, making for a wholly immersive reading experience. Be sure to grab this stellar debut issue when it hits shelves on October 5th!