ROGUE PLANET #2, available from Oni Press on June 24th, follows the Salvage Team as they navigate through alien “scarecrows” back to a ship with its own horrors. Written by Cullen Bunn and drawn by Andy MacDonald, ROGUE PLANET #2 is an effective cross between Event Horizon (1997) and Aliens (1987), with a dash of zombies thrown in for good measure.
Andy MacDonald and James Harren’s cover is a strong partner to the internal art and the overall design of the “scarecrows.” It’s not entirely clear what the creatures are…other than they “occupy” spacesuits of previous, and presumably deceased, visitors to Lonely Orphan. The perspective angle of the “scarecrow” is unsettling, and the body horror aesthetic elicits a heavy amount of gross-out cringe. If the cover is intended to unnerve you, it works.
Cullen Bunn’s story is straight-up sci-fi horror at its most cinematic. The entire team is on edge after Jimmy’s death, so Bunn hits you with tight, anxious dialog to keep the tension up when minimal action is happening. The team’s actions waffle between “run for your life” and “shoot first, ask questions later,” but the slowed pace doesn’t drag at all. If anything, Bunn keeps the reader walking on eggshells the entire time.
Meanwhile, the onboard crew faces a new threat from within their ranks. Without spoiling it, there’s more than one kind of alien threat on Lonely Orphan, and it’s taking out the entire crew one-by-one. If this issue could be summed up in one word, it’s “tension.” Bunn does a masterful job keeping the reader wound tight as you anticipate the unknown to suddenly snatch up the next villain.
Andy MacDonald’s art is the highlight of this issue for pushing the concept of alien further than you would expect. The “scarecrows” are tangible, but their design makes little sense in a way that’s wholly disorienting. Their forms look like messy, disembodied organs that you can picture as writhing and pulsing with malevolent life. The designs are both gross and horrifying.
Further props go to MacDonald for the bloody and claustrophobic scenes aboard the salvage ship. When one of the crew is attacked, you feel every invading wound like the worst case of nails on a chalkboard every conceived. MacDonald’s art is stomach-turning in all the best ways to compliment Bunn’s story.
Nick Filardi’s coloring helps to emphasize the gross-out factor in this issue. The heads(?) of the “scarecrows” are bulging masses that read as weird intestines or organs of some type. What sells that look and feel is the spectrum of pinks, purples, and mauves Filardi uses to give the alien heads the look of intestines or at least something that doesn’t belong on the outside of a body.
CRANK!’s lettering helps to navigate the reader by showing the dialog when the panel is NOT focused on the characters doing the talking. For example, the salvage crew is laser-focused on the “scarecrows” for the slightest sign of aggression. When the panel transition to the team’s point of view, CRANK!’s lettering effectively places the word bubbles to put you in the team’s perspective without breaking the flow of the conversation and keeping the pace up.
ROGUE PLANET #2, available from Oni Press on June 24th, is a compelling horror chapter in the spirit of John Carpenter and David Cronenberg. The writing is atmospheric, and the art is mind-bendingly gross. Get your sci-fi horror fix with this issue.