Review: Port of Earth #1 – San Francisco just got stranger

Usually in science fiction stories, when humans meet aliens we are usually on an equal footing or heading up their own galactic empire. At the very least, people become an important part of the alien society. That doesn’t happen in Port of Earth. In this series, we aren’t so much an ally of the aliens as… Well, you know those hornets that nest near the men’s room door of an Interstate Texaco…

In the very near future, a group of aliens from a number of races called the Consortium arrive on Earth. They don’t want to rule us. They don’t want to change us. They don’t want to eat us (mostly). They are looking for a place where spaceships can come, refuel and be on their way. The fuel? It is simple seawater.

In exchange for some technology, the aliens are allowed to set up a spaceport in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, near San Francisco. Aliens are never supposed to leave the port and most humans don’t interact with them. Then one day, three aliens manage to get away from the port and cause a ruckus downtown. When the dust settles, there are three dead aliens, 62 dead humans and over a billion dollars in damages.

And a pissed off Consortium.

It turns out the Consortium isn’t a government. It is a business and we’ve killed three customers. New rules go up and a special task force is trained to capture aliens with non-lethal means and return them to the Port, no matter how many people they kill.

Naturally, people quickly get annoyed with the lopsided deal they find themselves in. As a PR stunt, a camera crew follow Eric “Mac” McIntyre and George Rice as they follow-up on what everybody assumes is a prank call about an escaped alien. It turns out to be less of a prank and some aliens are more hostile than others…

Zack Kaplan again turns out an intriguing story that grabs the readers at the get go. Much like with his Eclipse (a noir story where the mystery happens in the brightest, harshest light), here is confounds expectations at all levels. Despite his relative new arrival in comics, Kaplan is quickly showing his strength by twisting the familiar into the strange and bringing the readers along without spoon-feeding them. He keeps his aliens mysterious because so few humans have any dealing with them, even the ones we are following in the story.

His writing is well complimented by Andrea Mutti’s art. Most of the world building is done in his pencils and inks. He keeps the story grounded with a sense that this could be happening in our world. Mutti’s (Conan, Invincible Iron Man) aliens look truly otherworldly and unique which makes his street scenes look more realistic.

If you’ve tried Eclipse, you know you can trust Kaplan to deliver a great story. (If you haven’t read Eclipse, open a new browser window to order it.) This book proves that he isn’t a one idea wonder.

Writer: Zack Kaplan
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colorist Vladimir Popov
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Publisher: Image / Top Cow

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