In space, no one can hear you squabble. There’s bickering aplenty in “Deep Gravity” #3, in Mike Richardson’s story as scripted by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, and drawn by Fernando BaldÃ³. There’s also plenty of suspense, thrills and deep-space horror as the remaining crew of the crippled ship Vanguard tries to survive the vacuum of space, alien creatures they’ve brought aboard, and each other’s personal agendas. While it can’t help but borrow from past sci-fi dramas, it nonetheless also successfully strikes all the same chords, and makes the nothingness of deep space a very frightening place indeed.
There’s the claustrophobia of Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” the adventure of James Cameron’s “Aliens,” and the isolation of Alfonso CuarÃ³n’s “Gravity” all combined into a taut thriller where the it’s man vs. nature, technology, and himself. Richardson’s story as executed by Hardman and Bechko takes all of these ingredients and delicately blends them all so that one aspect doesn’t overshadow another and that the issue doesn’t seem too crowded with story elements. The above films, and so many other strong stories, have focused on just one of these characteristics as its focal point, and by trying to combine all of them the writers have challenged themselves to a huge task that they pull off nicely.
BaldÃ³ doesn’t forget the kinds of feelings that the story is supposed to evoke, so remembering that this is a broken spacecraft in far off space, he makes the environment look very confined, and very dark. His style immerses readers and traps them with the crew, so when they’re attacked by a giant carnivorous alien squid, BaldÃ³’s space creature seems all the more horrific. Just as horrific is the sea of frozen bodies floating outside the ship, made all the more so by a wordless, anxiety-inducing scene of the survivors crossing open space, through this morbid and deadly obstacle course, to a presumed safer part of the craft. In keeping with the boxed-in feel of the story, BaldÃ³ keeps the number of larger panels to a minimum.
If anything at all is squeezed out of the story, it might be the characterization, which is largely glossed over between the number of featured characters and focus on the situational part of the story. “Deep Gravity” isn’t about deep personalities, though, and it’s just as well, for when the writers do try to force some character development, it comes across as just that: forced.
One of the characters is the kind of misguided backstabber that readers just hope, and know, will get his comeuppance, but when he does it comes just a little too close to a scene from one of the films that this story borrows from. At least the scene is connected to a story advancement that reveals just what happened to the Vanguard in the series’ first issue. The character lapses are small enough and therefore forgivable, and largely inconsequential to the overall story. “Deep Gravity” #3 succeeds because it takes everything that’s scary about deep space and comfortably fits it into one comic.