Monday, 15 January 2018

Comic Review: Ancient Astronauts

Published by Black Panel Press, written and illustrated by classically trained artist Vincent Pompetti, Ancient Astronauts is a Sci-Fi graphic novel that not only packs beautiful artwork, but weaves a compelling story across it's 168 pages. 

The graphic novel follows Onys Di Chieti, a brave and daring young archer who resides on Plaine, a distrant planet similar to Earth, which has developed it's own solar system. After three men break into her home and brutally kill her sister, Allie, she narrowly escapes and is unwittingly thrust into a terrifying adventure. Joined by a shaman called Yulunga, and an experienced captain, Mark; Onys finds herself wrapped up in a fight against a mysterous presence, a being that seems to thrive on fear, and is threatening to destroy the planet.

As she progresses, Onys starts to discover more about herself, and her true ancestry. As this is a non-spoiler review, I won't go into specifics, but it's proof that at this point, Ancient Astronauts is not only a lore-rich tale of adventure, but also one of self-discovery, too. Onys is a strong female lead who you'll definitely end up rooting for. 

It's hard to talk about this graphic novel without mentioning the most striking point of it - the artwork. Whilst the story is pretty strong and compelling enough for me to want to keep reading, it was the beautiful traditional hand-painted panels that creates not only an engaging angle, but it's also truly aesthetically pleasing. There's no doubt here that Vincent Pompetti put a lot of love and effort into his creation.

This level of high detail seen in the artwork carries over into the story, which is stuffed with plenty of culture, history, and politics. Sometimes, the story arches over into complexity, as there's just so many different concepts, themes and plot points merging into one, here. As I read this in stages, I found I had to flick back a few times to remind myself of what had happened, especially when the narrative mentioned previous details that had happened at an earlier period in the book.

However, this isn't particularly a huge negative - although I had to refresh myself a few times during staged reading, the story was compelling enough for me to want to continue to the end. You truly get the feel of the planet, and Onys struggles - both against the common enemy, and with her identity.

Effortlessly blending a true sense of adventure with the futuristic, sci-fi setting, Ancient Astronauts is a pleasure to read, albeit slightly heavy at times. Vincent Pompetti's artwork is a true high point of the graphic novel - there's some really beautiful images littered throughout. Pompetti apparently spent 10 years developing this story, and you can see that his efforts have paid off, both in it's artwork, and his story telling. It also paves the way for a compelling series. It's follow-up, Constellations is on it's way!

Ancient Astronauts is available via Black Panel Press. You can pick it up here.

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