Satellite Falling #1 has some nice art, particularly in terms of the settings and backdrops, but disappoints in terms of character design. It also forces too much information too quickly, leaving no mystery in this future-noir story of a jaded bounty hunter with a chip on her shoulder.
The art and the story premise drew me to Satellite Falling’s first issue but both were ultimately unsatisfying. The main character, Lilly, is a bounty hunter with a special understanding with the local police force. She’s a character plucked out of noir film: she’s a good person who does bad things not because she enjoys them, but because someone has to do them. She does the dirty work, the things the cops can’t do. This is a great premise, bringing a typical noir character into a science fiction story, but the story doesn’t have the other critical noir element, the mystery and high stakes that make for a page-turner. This is largely because the text is incredibly heavy on exposition. Lilly narrates parts of the story as an internal monologue, so instead of slowly learning as the story progresses, the reader immediately finds out the answers to any questions they might have had. Some examples, all from the first few pages: Who is Lilly talking to? Her dead girlfriend. When did her girlfriend die? Three years ago. Why is Lilly on Satellite? To avoid seeing other humans. Why aren’t there any other humans? Because they’re xenophobic. The dialogue trends the same way. It’s important to make sure your readers aren’t totally lost in a first issue, but this one goes into too-much-information territory.
The beginning of the book is full of establishing shots as the main character flies through the city driving her cab. Through these frames, the reader gets some stellar views of the city on the satellite. Those were easily my favorite part of the book. The city design and architectural style remind me a lot of Moebius, whose fantastical settings are among my favorites.
Still, I was disappointed with the character design, especially with respect to the aliens. There are a lot of them, and they all look generally the same – like a vaguely human-shaped body with some bits replaced or wrinkled differently and given a monochrome solid non-human skin color. Most end up looking like neon slugs. On the last page, after the story, there are some character designs for ‘residents of Satellite’ that are drawn and colored with far more detail and variety than any of the characters in the story – again, they remind me of Moebius – and I would have liked to see anything like those designs in the story. Everything else feels cartoonish in comparison. I think part of that is due to a shine effect that everything gets; many characters and surfaces reflect light without any consideration of where the actual light source is, which makes things feel flat.
The color palette is pretty neat. It’s full of pastels, and tends toward pink and blue, which goes a long way in creating a consistent feel for the book which is otherwise lacking.
The biggest overarching flaw for me that extends to several domains is the lack of intentionality and motivation. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for the aliens to look the way they do or dress the way they do; it just looks cool. Lilly agrees to do an undercover operation because the cops have “put at stake everyone on Satellite I care about” which, apart from being an unnaturally worded sentence, doesn’t make sense because as far as we know, there is no one left on Satellite that Lilly cares about. There are some poorly chosen perspectives in a lot of panels, especially in a scene between Lilly and the chief of police, where in several panels we’re looking up at both of their faces as they talk, and one centered on Lilly’s face where her chin is almost cut off by the bottom edge of the frame despite plenty of space above her head.
Overall, I might pick up the second issue to see if anything improves, but the problems in Satellite Falling #1 are too numerous and run too deep for me to be excited about where this goes.
- Interesting and beautifully detailed settings
- The world and story concept have a lot of potential
- Panels and view angles are uninteresting and in some cases poorly chosen
- Repetitive character/alien design
- Dialogue and narration provide too much information, leaving nothing left for the visual element of the story (and no questions to engage the reader)