I read this book. Then I waited an hour or so, and read it again. The interval was necessary processing time as Space Riders #1 is not your average science fiction. The Rangel, Jr. and Ziritt creation is a mind-bending trip through the cosmos for sure.
The book chronicles the adventures of Capitan (not Captain, and don’t you forget it!) Peligro and the crew of the Santa Muerte, a skull-shaped starship designed to “fly and kill.” Initially it’s more of a short, and relatively recent, history of the good capitan than anything else, and a doozy of a history it is indeed.
After losing an eye to an unnamed marauder, Peligro drifts through space and is eventually rescued by the E.I.S.F. The organization that this initialism represents is never identified explicitly, but one gets the impression that it is some sort of para-military agency that polices the spaceways. As straight-edged as the E.I.S.F. may ultimately be, some (more) suspension of disbelief is required as Colonel Conley, the highest ranking officer in SR thus far, as well as a third of the Santa Muerte crew, is anthropomorphic.
So, not only are we witness to the start of what is sure to be a fantastic space opera, replete with intergalactic motorcycle-riding-armor-clad pirates, we’ve also got a bipedal white tiger and a religious dog ape. You really couldn’t ask for more – so don’t. This is a very “out there” book, in more ways than one already, and anymore trippy elements in the premier would undoubtedly cause sensory overload.
Speaking of, beginning on the comic’s first page, the artistic influences are fairly obvious; the style is an homage of sorts to legends like Kirby and Steranko. Every panel thereafter is a psychedelic splash of color and movement that will challenge the most seasoned comic book reader’s sense of spatial orientation.
The art gives the book a cool vintage feel; even the page edges are browned and weathered – a little faux water damage, too – and the result is amazing. If not for the graphic depictions of violence and some of the language, this book could easily pass for an overlooked Silver Age gem.
Black Mask makes its mark by publishing stories that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else, and Space Riders fits with that modus operandi like a well-placed LEGO® block. Don’t miss this one.