From the moment they open Deep Gravity, science-fiction fans will find themselves in comfortable territory. The title page gives us the definition of a few basic scientific terms and explanations of various phenomena, such as what deep gravity is and how a gravity well works. We also have the setting established with a brief text dump that is reminiscent of the opening of the movie Blade Runner.
Three light-years away from Earth lies the watery planet of Poseidon – a massive world many times larger than Earth, yet possessing far less dry land. Here, the Maelstrom Science & Technology Corporation holds complete autonomy over the scientific research that is conducted. More importantly, at least to the company heads, they possess complete control over the resources that are recovered.
While the bureaucrats may fret over every dropped wrench leading to a loss of their big government contract, the scientists and security personnel have larger concerns. The greatest of these is the dangerous flora and fauna that dominate Poseidon. Worse, the planet’s increased gravity prevents any human from living on the planet for longer than three years without suffering severe physical damage.
None of this is of much concern to Engineer Third Class Steven Paxon, who left a lucrative job in Maelstrom’s structural design department to take a much less prestigious post as a repairman on the next ship heading out to Poseidon. Why? Because Paxon is in the grip of a force stronger than gravity – love. And the object of his affections – biologist Michelle Robinson – dumped him six years earlier to secure a once-in-a-lifetime chance to study alien biology in the wild.
Fans of hard science-fiction will find Deep Gravity to be a deeply satisfying read. The realities of long-distance space travel are explained in minute detail, particularly the long-term effects on the human body. Yet this information is also made accessible to the laymen who may come to this book seeking more action and adventure than science facts. Sadly, the book does falter a bit in this regard. The book’s few action scenes – centering around the attacks of hostile animals on Poseidon – prove enjoyable enough, yet the characters are strictly shallow.
It is fairly clear who the villain of the piece is going to be from the minute he opens his mouth to complain about people being put before profits. Michelle is the worst kind of cliche – the tough-as-nails career woman who doesn’t need a man, right up until the inevitably approaching point when the man she scorned proves his worth and earns her heart. Paxon doesn’t fare much better, coming off as the most pathetic loser in space this side of Dave Lister from Red Dwarf. The only thing that prevents Paxon from being written off as a creepy “nice guy” is his bravery in saving someone from one of the hostile alien animals, despite not having any weapons.
Thankfully, the artwork by Fernando Baldo proves to be more unique. Baldo’s detailed style fits an amazing amount of detail into each panel without losing any sense of clarity. His characters, no matter how minor, all have a unique appearance to them. And his alien creatures actually do look strange and other-worldly.
This first issue is somewhat of a slow start but the cliff-hanger conclusion promises action aplenty as the miniseries continues. Fans of the genre will find Deep Gravity to be an enjoyable piece of work. Even comic readers who aren’t much for heavy sci-fi may enjoy it, provided they can get past the stock characters.