When the aliens finally made contact with Earth, it was not to make war or peace. They came to make a profit.
Having mastered the technology that turned water into a potent source of fuel, the aliens came to our planet seeing it as an exploitable resource. When they discovered that Earth was inhabited by beings with a basic understanding of finance, it was decided that a deal would be made.
In exchange for agreeing to establish a space port and allowing a certain safe percentage of the planet’s water to be siphoned off every year, this alien Consortium agreed to give Earth access to the same water-based engines that powered their spaceships. This resulted in unemployment for a lot of mechanics and a wave of anti-alien sentiment.
This, in turn, led to the establishment of The Earth Security Agency – a special police force that would protect alien visitors from hostile Earthlings and protect Earthlings from hostile aliens who violated the embargo on alien life leaving the quarantine zones in the space port.
Two ESA officers – Rice and McIntyre – are about to have a routine day become anything but. Consortium dignitaries are visiting Earth for the first time and somebody is ready to break the fragile peace between Earth and their benefactors…
Port of Earth presents an interesting concept for a science-fiction story: what if aliens came to us as business partners rather than conquerors or diplomats? This is a conceit rarely, if ever, seen in American comic books, where aliens are usually bug-eyed alien spacemen bent on world domination or the last scions of dying worlds sent to protect their new home from the hubris that doomed their ancestors.
Unfortunately, for all the brilliance in Zack Kaplan’s core idea, the story itself falls flat. Over half of this first issue is devoted towards exposition, starting with an unseen narrator before switching to exposition delivered by a news broadcast before concluding with exposition delivered by our protagonists, who are speaking to the drone cameras that are following them around, COPS-style, as they perform their duties. This is about as exciting as it sounds, and violates every principal about showing the audience things rather than telling them things.
The artwork is equally uninvolving. With the exception of the first page, which depicts a vivid blue starscape, most of the comic is colored in muted pastels and shades of gray. Indeed, some pages barely look as if they were colored at all and the whole book might as well have been rendered in black and white! This is a shame, because Andrea Mutti’s pencils are quite good but the script doesn’t give him much to draw that is interesting. The most visually stimulating parts of the book come at the end, when we get to see sketches of some of the different alien races who didn’t show up in the book.
I suspect Port Of Earth might work better as a straight science-fiction novel than as an illustrated story. The base idea is sound but the execution – in terms of scripting and color art – leaves much to be desired. Hard science-fiction fans may enjoy it but most audiences will not find this port to be a hospitable place to dock.