A galactic empire hunts a race of shape shifters prophesied to overthrow its rule. When orphaned teenager Spry discovers that he is one of the hunted—a Shaper—he must learn to use his newfound abilities to escape the empire’s prime enforcer, Tor Ajax, and save his entire race!
This comic started life as a screenplay, the brain child of Eric Heisserer (Nightmare On Elm Street reboot, Final Destination 5). He soon realised that it would be a better fit as a comic book series and it certainly fits that description. There are hints at a much bigger universe as this issue unfolds, something dramatic on a much bigger stage. The intricate back story unfolds with each turn of the page, a story filled with secrets and cover ups.
Spry is a young man with a high level of intelligence and an obvious rebellious streak who attends a boarding school, a little bored with life and keen to get out into the world. I get the impression that he feels he’s destined for bigger things but can’t quite grasp what that is yet. The story starts with Spry explaining to his friend the table top card game based on history and a breed of creature called a Shaper, a shape shifting species that was hunted down to be exterminated.
After an open day at his school, Spry is left alone with his teacher and mentor, Niva, who lets on that Spry’s father had promised to be there to collect him. A father that Spry has never met and didn’t even think existed. It’s understandably a shock to him as he had always been told that he’s an orphan, hence the boarding school. All of that goes out the window during events that happen towards the end of the comic and poor Spry is bombarded with information overload as his world crashes down around him, in more ways that just the metaphorical. He learns things about who and what he is, who his parents really are and just how much more there is that he still doesn’t know.
The artwork by Massafera (Captain Midnight, Star Wars), makes Spry’s world seem much bigger than it is. With an imaginative use of colour and a wide collection of different species, the hints are already there on the page as to how big the world of Shaper actually is. Just because Spry doesn’t notice that fact doesn’t mean it’s not there. The art is what makes this story. Each time you go back and look at a panel, there is more detail to be found, more story to see. And I would also like to give Spry’s hair a special mention, mainly because it’s pretty much exactly what my hair looks like at the moment!
I like that this first issue alludes to a much bigger universe and a grand scale back story. Heisserer explains that he’s a big fan of the space opera and this comic certainly hints at that. You can see instantly that this had its beginnings firmly rooted in a screenplay. And while I’m a little saddened that this won’t be hitting the silver screen (at least not any time soon), it has been perfectly molded into comic book form and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes, and to seeing the bigger picture as the story progresses.
Publisher: Dark Horse