I’m starting to sense a real trend among publishers regarding new sci-fi titles – the more bewildering the concept, the better – one that EI8HT follows from beginning to end. Joshua, a lost chrononaut, has just crash landed into the Meld, a dimension outside of time, as this first issue opens. As he struggles with a damaged memory, he’s confronted by some of the Meld’s other inhabitants and must quickly decide who, if anyone, to trust.
Many of you know Rafael Albuquerque from his work on American Vampire and Superman/Batman. His artistic style is dark, bordering on grim at times, but it’s served the stories he’s told in the past well. He’s something of a master at utilizing restricted color palettes and the realization of that mastery comes to the fore quickly in this book. Besides the monotone saturated backgrounds indicating different periods of time, the book is basically a black and white, with a dash of red here and there to distinguish relevant characters from supporting cast.
Everything about this book is cleverly laid out, from the color scheme to character interactions, something that I didn’t realize on my first read through. For instance, blue is the color for the future, but we see Joshua there preparing for his initial entry into the Meld , after we first encounter him. In the Meld. So, it might be that there’s something of a möbius strip-effect going on here. There are some other things that happen in the story that give that impression as well, but I don’t want to give too much away.
There are a few things that I don’t care for in the book – the overall Land of the Lost feel, for starters – that I hope aren’t overly emphasized in later issues. I get the idea that most anything is possible in the Meld, hence the domesticated dinosaurs, however, I’d much rather some things remain set pieces as opposed to major players. The way things are shaping up, though, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. Also, the pseudo-tribal society lorded over by the technologically advanced tyrant-trope wasn’t all that appealing, but, I’ll get over it. There’s more than enough mystery and adventure here for me to hang around for a while.
Despite those earlier complaints, I’m in on this one; I want to see what persuaded Joshua to risk this extraordinary predicament in the first place. Given the style of this story, that may or may not be possible, which really is just one more reason to stick around and find out.