I love dystopian science fiction, and time-travel stories too, so Dark Horse’s new graphic novel “Ei8ht,” which began as a webcomic by Rafael Albuquerque, is right up my alley.
“The past is green,” the intro reads, “the present is purple, the future is blue – the Meld is something else entirely.” From the start, we see this is not your average time-travel tale, if there is such a thing.
The colors match up to the scenes in the story. If a panel is illustrated in purple, we know we are seeing the future; the past is in green, etc. I’m not sure the color guide is necessary, but I guess it helps if you’re easily confused.
The first chapter is a bit vague, as our hero’s trip to the Meld leaves his memory fuzzy. I get a “12 Monkeys” vibe, though, as Joshua seems to have been sent there in an attempt to find a cure to a plague that is wiping out people in the present time. Or in the future. (Maybe I do need that color code after all.)
“Ei8ht” takes a Mad Max-ian turn when we see what kind of place Joshua ended up in. The first person Joshua meets in the Meld is a Tank Girl type, armed with a bow. She and her buddies seem like the same kind of characters you might run into in “Fury Road.”
It’s an inhospitable desert dimension that is not a nice place to be. Think of it as a sort of Bermuda Triangle, which factors into the plot, in Chapter 2.
The story is compelling and the art is haunting. I definitely got sucked into the story. Of course there is the page-turning element of mystery – who is Joshua and why is he stuck here? But it’s also exciting to discover new worlds in science fiction, and the Meld certainly qualifies.
Albuquerque has described the Meld as a “temporal trash can,” a place in time where everything that’s ever been or will be on Earth can coexist – including dinosaurs and Nazis.
I initially liked the fast pace of the comic – don’t you hate it when a story arc drags on and on? But then in Chapter 5 I wondered if it wasn’t moving too quickly. Is this a miniseries?
If it’s over, then it’s a bit of a letdown. It’s too short to be a complete story, and there is so much wasted potential if this is the end. But the graphic novel (which collects comics 1 through 5) is called “Volume 1,” which leads me to believe there is more in store for these characters. I hope so.
“Ei8ht, Volume 1: Outcast”
By Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson
Dark Horse Books; October 2015