It’s easy to look at “Higher Earth” #1 — a new series by Sam Humphries and Francesco Biagini — and see a lot of familiarity between it and other comics. The idea of parallel worlds snaking together is a familiar one and over the years different writers have used the idea of those worlds getting abused by their neighbors as well — but in the case of “Higher Earth” #1, I feel like they use that to their advantage.
Because readers presumably get the idea right off the bat, one of our two main characters (whose name is never given throughout this issue) doesn’t have to explain to the audience the idea of parallel worlds, merely to other main character Heidi. It’s a fine line between the two, but it means that we get the idea that Heidi is confused by the strange world that she’s been dropped into; it makes her the bewildered one in comparison to the reader, and points out that on some level “Higher Earth” will be a learning experience for Heidi rather than a puzzle box for the reader. While we’ve seen parallel worlds exploited in many other stories, the idea of it being used strictly as a garbage dump is a clever one.
Humphries gives Heidi herself a pleasant personality; you get the idea right off the bat that she’s lived through a rough life, but there’s still a certain innocence about her that makes her appealing. The love of her prized belongings is cute, and I appreciate that she isn’t all gung ho about this strange new situation she’s been plunged into. She feels like the actual hero of this story, and watching her grow promises to be entertaining.
Biagini’s art is good; it’s very expressive (especially in the scenes where the male main character corners Heidi) and the panel progression is smooth. He’s also good about making Heidi’s world feel like a dumping ground without going over the top; spires of trash would have been a bit much, but the overall blanket of garbage is fitting. The one glimpse we get of something strange (the cyborg bear) is interesting enough that I’m hoping Humphries gives Biagini more ridiculousness to draw in the issues to come.
“Higher Earth” is a good first issue, and at a $1 price point it’s a win-win situation for buyers. You’ll get a strong idea on if you want to read more and I suspect there will be a lot of readers that will sign on for a second dose. It’s a nice launch for a new ongoing series.