Northern Ireland’s Uproar Comics, best known for their ongoing series Zombies Hi set in an around the City of Derry after a zombie apocalypse, have introduced a new science fiction space opera title to their output, Leap.
The sleeper ship Vanguard was sent out from Earth eighty years ago as the first in a fleet of 13 ships of Project Leap to find and chart Earth-type planets with a view to utilising their resources and to eventual colonisation. In orbit around planet HD_40307_G, Vanguard’s landing party encounters the humanoid natives who are appear to be at a hunter/gatherer level of civilisation. The natives’ curiosity leads to an unfortunate encounter with the landing party’s security robots that requires the Vanguard’s Prime Officer, Anna Tarik, to be awakened from suspended animation. She soon discovers that she doesn’t just have an issue to deal with on the planet below but disturbing news relayed from Earth itself.
Let’s deal with the credits for Leap first. The printed comic describes itself as a Team Uproar production however the Uproar website is a little more forthcoming stating (deep breath), “Concept originally created by Daniel McLaughlin and Kevin Logue, all art duties were held in-house by the Uproar Team of Jonny Lynn, Ciaran Doherty, Richard Rodgers, Marcus Kirk and Nathan McIntyre. Exclusive to this issue only lead art duties were held by Michael O’Callaghan. With a special shout out to the rest of the team – Holly Stinson, Michael “The Bearded” Arbuthnot, Stephen King, Heather Taylor, Ruth Thompson, Chris McGovern, and Jordan Sandy.” So now you know.
The editorial intro to Leap, I assume written by Danny McLaughlin, tells us that it is unashamedly both inspired by and an homage to all the science fiction movies and TV series that its creators watched when they were younger. Indeed you can spot the influences of Alien and Aliens, Star Wars Phantom Menace, Battlestar Galactica, the John Carter books and others as you read through the story. Does that matter? Not in the least given that editorial is on page 2 meaning that Team Uproar are truly upfront about it and, after all, most of us could readily tick of many of the same tales in our own a list of nostalgic SF.
The plot is straightforward, trouble on the planet that may affect the crew then added to by trouble at home that will affect the crew. How the planet’s native population react to the humans and in turn how the humans react to the planet’s natives may not be innovative but it is well handled, as is the problem that the message from Earth leaves them with. It all acts as a pilot that sets up the concept for a series that could being individual tales or an ongoing story arc. And perhaps it is this TV idea of a pilot episode that is the reason that this Leap is an issue zero rather than issue one given that it ends with To Be Continued.
The artwork is a mixture of line art with some photographic textures rather than just straight colours and as odd as that might sound it actually works remarkably well. The early pages do tend to only have 4 panels suggesting that it may have been initially conceived as a US sized comic, which is more typical of Uproar’s output, rather than the A4 that it was finally published at, but this soon settles down to more panels per page that look to have been planned as A4.
The aliens are perhaps the highlight of the artwork being both well designed and executed while the fact that the gutters are black rather than white and all the text/credits pages have black backgrounds means that the entire issue feels like an immersive experience. It has an unusual squared off but stapled spine and Uproar describe it as a “trade paper back” though given that the covers use the same type of paper as the interior I’ll stick to calling it a comic.
At 48 full colour A4 pages, Leap issue zero is an impressive publication telling an intriguing SF tale that while never ground breaking is enjoyably comfortable in its familiarity. It will be interesting to see where Uproar go with this title.
Leap Issue Zero can be purchased as either an e-publication or hard copy from the Uproar webstore.