Skyward is the story of an earth forever changed by a disastrous event. Yup, it’s another post-apocalyptic sci-fi book — but you’ve never seen an apocalypse quite this sunny and bright.
See, the world-changing event in question was that gravity suddenly malfunctioned, sending coffee cups, people and even cars floating helplessly into the sky. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and humanity has adapted to survive. Artist Lee Garbett shows us a cityscape of pulleys, jet packs and balloons, a little reminiscent of free-running videogame Mirror’s Edge — thanks especially to Antonio Fabela’s colors, which paint the world in pastels, punctured with occasional flashes of stark red — but the book never lingers on its worldbuilding. This is just the way things are.
Which is appropriate, given that our hero, Willa, was just a baby when gravity decided to pack its bags. This low-g life is the only one she’s ever known and, even though she lost her mother on that fateful day, Willa isn’t keen to come crashing back down to earth. “I think I would have gone crazy,” she says at one point. “Not being able to go up.”
Not everyone agrees, however. The other character we spend the most time with is Nate, Willa’s father. Nate seemingly predicted what would happen, and is the one person who seems to be treating this apocalyptic event with the — please excuse the pun — gravity you’d expect.
The push and pull between father and daughter — one embracing freedom and wanting to push out further still, while the other literally ties himself down — seems like it will be the main thrust of the book going forward. But the actual story in this issue, like everything else about it, is fairly light. We meet the cast, see snippets of the world, and end on a final bit of setup.
Skyward just about gets away with it because all of those things are presented so charmingly. Joe Henderson’s dialogue does a good job of quickly establishing character, but Garbett’s art is undeniably the star here. His characters have a cartoonish edge to them, with exaggerated proportions that really accentuate their movements and expressions, but with enough realism to keep them, ironically enough, grounded. His panelling is wide open too, giving characters room to float around the page, and lending the book an appropriately airy feel.
So yes, it’s light — chances are, you’ll fly through this issue like Willa through the skies of Chicago — but Skyward establishes solid foundations that Henderson and Garbett can build on in future installments.