John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction – Vault #1 (Comic)

Series created by John Carpenter and Sandy King

Written by James Ninness

Pencils & Inks by Andres Esparza

Colored by Sergio Martinez

Cover by Nick Percival

Lettered by Janice Chiang

Edited by Sandy King

Published by Storm King Productions, Inc.

John Carpenter is nothing if not unpredictable.

His interest in directing film seems to be waning in recent years; yet, he remains involved with various projects all over the map, from his recent musical releases and tours to this, a new comic book anthology.

The anthology is John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction, and this first issue is the first entry in a three-part story titled Vault.

The story is simple enough: In the near future, a NASA ship is sent to the other side of the moon on a semi-secret mission. Once there, they find a huge seemingly alien ship.  The problem is that the ship has the word “VAULT” written in English on the side.  In case there was any confusion about possible overlays between their language and ours, the outside of the ship also features a quote from poet Emily Dickinson.

So what is the Vault, and where did it come from?  The team investigates and almost immediately runs into very bad things.

This is science fiction, but only so much as the Alien series is science fiction.  This is a violent, gore-filled book with something very nasty running around the derelict ship.  It’s a horror tale, kids, no doubt about that.

Andres Esparza’s art is detailed and exciting.  The Vault has many suspicious and dangerous things aboard, and he details them all in vivid colors.  He’s definitely from the 90’s Image school of character drawing, reminding me of Jim Lee and Wilce Portacio.  Much more tamed than any of those guys, however.  No massively bulging appendages or impossibly huge weapons, just the same highly-detailed modern comic art.

The dialogue is crisp and to the point.  Considering the source, it should be no surprise that it’s very cinematic and reads like a film script.  Should anyone wish to adapt this into a feature film, there’d be little work to do.

That being said, there’s one glaring issue that can’t be ignored.  By the end of Issue 1, there’s no denying it: This is Alien.  I mean, it’s just really, really Alien.  We don’t see the critter responsible for the carnage, but it’s monstrous and capable of fast, silent attacks leaving human bodies in pieces.  It looks like whoever manned this ship fell prey to it.  There’s goo of some kind all over the Vault.  It’s just very derivative at this point.  Yes, there are differences, as it’s pointed out that the goo is fungal in nature.  There are no chestbursters.  There’s the apparent earthly origin of the Vault.

As it stands, though, there’s no way to drag any reader from what we have: a story that’s an Alien… homage.  I’ll call it an “homage” for now.

And that’s the big issue: This is only part 1 of 3.  It’s entirely possible that Issue 2 will head off in a very different direction and move everything much further away from the Xenomorph series.  That’s what’s tricky about reviewing comics.  You’re reviewing part of a story.

All I can say is this series might take off and become something wonderful and new.  The pieces are there.  This is not a bad comic.  It’s extremely well done, in fact.  It was a quick, enjoyable read.  But without seeing where we’re headed, what we have now is a very, very derivative… homage… to a universally-known series of films in the exact same genre.

Because of this I give this issue a hesitant recommendation.  It’s a good comic.  But Issue 2 needs to crank up the originality and do things we haven’t seen before!

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Mr. Dark

A man of mystery. An enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a low-carb whole grain tortilla. A guy who writes about spooky stuff.

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