COMIC REVIEW: Sage Escape: Mars Gambit

Title: Sage Escape: Mars Gambit

Publisher: Primal Archetype

Rating: 3/5

Reviewer: Ian Simpson

The cover of Sage Escape bulges and intrigues. It’s all muscles, guns and skulls. It features Sage, striking in her red and grey outfit, and certainly draws you in. The opening page has a video-game style graphics with the intriguing announcement that this is: Raamon vs Sage. Sage Escape is, however, more than just a comic book. Writer and artist Damian Simankowicz has a clear ambition which might just please a whole bunch of comic book fans. Find out more at sageescape.com, as the comic boasts.

The year 3042: a time of alien cultures, cybernetic warfare and a teenage girl named Sage.

But what’s this all about? Well, we’re in the year 3042 and this is all about post-humans living in a world of a multi-dimensional council and banned biological weapons; a world of cover ups and Friendly Corp (the military’s cypernetic producing corporation); a world of salesmen (cyber-human police, if you will) and a world of the Cray family, the controllers of Mars’ water supply. Into this world we find Sage, a refugee with fighting skills and an attitude. In an alley on her way to the Cray mansion (she needs to access their data hub so she can prove they covered up the invasion of her home, in Australia) she tackles a reptiloid and an enhanced human. These are dispatched with the requisite violence. There is a moment of reflection in the Friendly Corp headquarters as we learn some exposition, before Sage faces her showdown with Raamon. We climax issue 1 back on earth as Sage’s investigation continues.

Simankowicz is a multi-talented chap. He has directed an award winning independent film (On The Edge Of Eden). He has directed a music video and he has now embarked on his obsession, this multi-media comic experience. The rest of the team that produced it are also from a film and music background.

It shows. Sage Escape looks like it was created for the modern digital world. Most of the book consists of large cinematic panels, plenty of action, and fighting, and comes with narration from our hero. This book sparkles, it is shiny and vivid. However, it is so obviously created on a computer that is feels flat. Almost too perfect for me. It’s all faultless gradient colouring, straight lines, shiny metalwork and emotionless faces. Considering that Sage is seeking to find out what really happened to her village, she has particularly dead-looking eyes. Which is a shame, because the design is nice. The world-building and the creations (especially some of the alien and/or post-human background characters) look really cool. I think the story could’ve been elevated by a less ‘perfect’, muscular style, although I suppose it does show that the future looks all perfect and shiny. It suffers from the Starship Troopers (film) dichotomy.

The writing is fine. Unremarkable, but readable. There’s a seed of a decent story and some interesting characters which may become more so in future issues. There is nothing in Sage Escape that hasn’t been seen elsewhere – the wronged heroine searching for the truth; the post-humans; the humanoid aliens (somewhat reminiscent of those from Baron and Rude’s Nexus universe); the future police all muscles and laser guns; the ED209-a-like mechanized police units; giant corporations running everything and covering up all their evils. Which is not to say that this isn’t a fun book if you like your sci-fi set on Mars with a kick-ass heroine. I just feel it could be a little more engaging and a little less familiar.

There is more information and fun to be had on the website, including merchandise and even soundtrack music. There’s also a Facebook page for those of that persuasion (facebook.com/sageescape). This is a big deal for Simankowicz and it’s cool to see an independent artist with a vision and ambition. I just hope the story gets a little better, and then the art will become less of an issue.

The exclusive digital edition is out on 11 March.

Comic Preview – Sage Escape: Mars Gambit

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