Skin & Earth is the product of alt-pop star Lights. In researching this book, it is described as a modern take on a concept album. In addition to the comic series, Lights has created music and music videos starring as this character and using those outlets to expand upon and promote this story.
The Skin & Earth series tells the story of a post apocalyptic world where the population is separated into two sectors, pink sector and red sector. The population of the red sector live in horrible conditions and are forced to wear masks around their mouths. The world they inhabit is toxic and growing worse due to over-drilling and consuming their world’s natural resources. The wealthy pink district is shown to be a vibrant, futuristic city. We focus on our main character, a red-haired woman named Enaia Jin. She is written to be an extremely hopeful person amidst all the horrible things going on in her world. Thanks to her deceased mother who left her money to cover the costs, she is one of the rare reds to attend Tempest University. Unfortunately, the majority of the classes involve pushing propaganda for the organization responsible for the toxic situation they are in. An important detail is that she also gets involved with a man named Priest.
The series has an intriguing premise and uses elements of its world and class system as a basis for commentary on our society. The wealthy are shown to be either oblivious or not sympathetic to what is really happening in their world. The oil drilling and environmental part of the story are self-explanatory. If anything, the message can be considered a bit heavy-handed, but I can appreciate the story that Lights is trying to tell. In the first issue, we are shown portions of En’s daily life and panels of En walking through the clean, futuristic, ‘good’ part of town and we are then shown the bleak, toxic, ‘bad’ part of town. The first issue did a great job of setting the tone and building the environment our characters inhabit.
In comparison to the first issue, this issue doesn’t have a lot of those world building elements, and we pick back up with the relationship between En and Priest. The issue is dialogue heavy and the drama felt a bit exaggerated to me. The dialogue is used to help expand on En’s viewpoint and how she sees the world and how it is different from someone like Priest. It is well written and the dialogue is appropriate, but it’s not what I was expecting coming out of the first issue.
Lights handles writing, art, and even lettering duties, so the storytelling is very cohesive. In general, the art is clean with good framing and interesting perspective. However, faces look odd and distorted. I don’t know if that is intentional? The characters wear masks in many panels and I could see the warped facial features explained as a consequence of the toxic environment they inhabit. Unfortunately, we never get a proper look at what the ‘normal’ people look like as a comparison.
I give this issue 3.5 out of 5 stars. I feel like the story lost some momentum compared to the first issue. We also aren’t given a lot of seeds for future issues, so I genuinely don’t know what to expect going forward. I do feel the premise still has potential and I’m curious to know where Lights will take us with this story.
Story, Art, and Lettering by Lights
Published by Dynamite