Void Trip #1
Writer: Ryan O’Sullivan
Artist/Colors: Plaid Klaus
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Cover artists: Klaus (regular)/Sarah Suhng, Caspar Wijngaard, Alessandro Vitti & Mike McKone (variants)
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99 US
Image Comics is such a radically different beast than what it was when it launched a quarter century (!) ago. Them, it was home to creator-owned properties by some of the most popular talents in the industry, but it was basically a super-hero publisher, offering the same sort of fare as Marvel and DC. It’s finally evolved into what it was meant to be: a haven for creator-owned work across many genres, both crafted by the best-known writers and artists in the industry but also by new names. Void Trip falls into the latter category. Image has had such a solid track record as of late, it makes me want to sample all of its titles, but if there’s any problem with its publishing plans, it’s that it’s pumping out too many comics. Nevertheless, I like to try something new from Image from time to time, and I’m thoroughly pleased to chose to peruse Void Trip. This sci-fi comedy reads like someone took elements from the Star Wars franchise, threw them into a blender with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and hit purée.
Ana and Gabe are far from the most admirable folks you’re going to meet. They’re slackers who like to get wasted on Froot, naturally occurring alien produce of different varieties that offer different kinds of highs. With a rickety rocketship at their disposal but little else in the way of resources, they’s conning their way across the cosmos in a quest to reach Euphoria, an eden for Froot-heads such as themselves. But on the way, they not only have to contend with establishment forces looking to stomp out rebellious spirits, but also their own excesses and ineptitude.
The irreverence and weirdness of this comic reminded me a great deal of John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew, so if you liked that oddball comic, chances are you’ll enjoy this. Plaid Klaus’s artwork also reminds me a great deal of Guillory’s exaggerated style. I was most impressed with how Klaus adapts his style for the drug-trip sequence in the cantina, adopting thicker lines and an airier, psychedelic color palette to convey the disconnect from reality. There are a number of other touches that pleased me as well, such as the softer look for the hulking but kind trucker in the opening scene, and the fact that the artist doesn’t sexualize his female protagonist in the least.
We’re clearly not meant to admire Ana and Gabe. Though the latter is the voice of reason and constantly frustrated with Ana’s impulsivity, later in the issue, we see he’s on board with the hedonistic, near-ambivalent lifestyle they’ve adopted. We’re also clearly meant to detest the forces hunting them down and plotting against them, as they represent government and conformity. I especially found the stiff, 1950s style design for their ship’s artificial intelligence to be a perfect counterpoint to their free-spirited philosophy. Ultimately, both sides of the conflict represent those lifestyles and ideas at their extremes. The only truly benign and likeable figure in the story is the gullible trucker, a hard-working guy who sees the best in those around him and wants to help.
Void Trip wears its influences on its sleeve, from Star Wars and Spaceballs to Cheech and Chong and Spaced. It’s unapologetically goofy and over the top, and despite the not-so-subtle commentary it offers, it’s just meant to be fun. It’s not stupid, though; this isn’t Dumb and Dumber in space. It’s almost like a post-grad roller coaster on ‘shrooms… I assume, having never tried psilocybin myself. 8/10