John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: Vortex #1 Written by Mike Sizemore
Pencils, Inks, and Colors by Dave Kennedy
Lettering by Dave Kennedy
Edited by Sandy King
Cover Art by Tim Bradstreet
Storm King Comics
Release date: October 25, 2017
Earlier this year, the Master of Horror John Carpenter and wife Sandy King Carpenter began a new venture with their comics label, Storm King Comics. The project is a monthly anthology series called Tales of Science Fiction. Over the Summer, they released the first story Vault, a 3-part space thriller written by James Ninness. As the seasons change and Halloween approaches, it’s time for a new journey to begin. Tales of Science Fiction: Vortex is written by Mike Sizemore based on a story by the first couple of horror themselves and Sandy King served as editor on the project. The first issue of the 8-part series debuts today.
Tales of Science Fiction: Vortex #1 is bookended by quotes from Milton’s Paradise Lost… not exactly a beacon of hope for the characters. The story follows time-trusted sci-fi themes: exploration of deep space, cross-dimensional travel, and of course things that go bump in the darkness. In a story that evokes visions of “Aliens meets Armageddon,” a group of space miners disappear leading to a rescue mission.
Whereas Vault was only three issues and had to get into its story quickly, Vortex has the luxury of time and uses it to develop its characters. They include Captain Jake Dixon, a man whose past decisions still haunt him and those around him; his friend and partner Bear, a gigantic human being with a heart of gold; and Sinclair, a rookie excited for her first taste of adventure. Joining them for rescue purposes is a doctor and their pilot is Anna Cheron, who looks like a total badass. “Are you wearing prison fatigues?” Jake asks when he sees her. The characters are well defined in both the writing and the artwork. David Kennedy does a great job drawing each of our crew members with distinct personality. Dixon looks like a hard grizzled veteran trying to move on from traumatic events of the past. Sinclair’s face beams with youthful enthusiasm, unaware of the dangers she’s surely walking into.
This was a perfect slow-burn first issue comic book. It sets a tone, introduces interesting characters, and doesn’t reveal too much. We get slight peaks at what is responsible for the crew disappearance, but Sizemore and the art team don’t spoil the fun. Knowing Carpenter’s work, I’m selfishly hoping for a Lovecraftian spin involving old world monsters from deep space. The concept of “The Rift,” as Bear calls it, evoked memories of Event Horizon, one of my favorite sci-fi/horror films. We get hints that something may be afoot on the space vessel above, which makes me think of the Weyland group’s constant involvement in the Alien franchise, trying to use the xenomorphs for capitalistic and militaristic gains, not seeing the dangers right in front of them.
Vortex is a quick and easy read that introduces a new world with cool new characters. While it of course pays homage to some classics, it also felt original. I like the characterization and feel being a longer series will benefit. The more the reader knows about and sympathizes with these characters, the more involved they’ll be in their arcs. I’m already looking forward to issue 2, which comes out right after Thanksgiving.
John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: Vortex #1 is out in stores today.