I loved everything about the first Space Riders series. I loved the balls-out bonkers story, written by Fabian Rangel Jr, I loved the mind-blowing comix-influenced psychedelic art by Alexis Ziritt, which was wonderfully enhanced by Ryan Ferrier‘s letters. Now, the series is back with another volume, and after a terrific first issue, I’m happy to report that Space Riders 2: Galaxy of Brutality #2 fits right in with the first volume; it’s gloriously vulgar and uninhibited space opera insanity, with stunning art and style. The result is an issue that kicks the action up several notches and delivers an amazingly fun read.
As Capitan Peligro struggles to escape the limbo he found himself trapped within at the close of the previous issue, Mono rejoins the Space Riders once more, this time with new abilities. Reunited, the Riders find themselves journeying to the very edge of the universe, to the Omega Structure. There Peligro encounters someone from his past he never thought to see again. Meanwhile, as Colonel Conley begins training new Space Rider recruits, he finds that one recruit may be concealing a terrible secret.
When it comes to Space Riders, it’s one of those books you either get, and love, or you don’t. Like a lot of Black Mask‘s output, there’s a rebellious, anti-authority, non-conformist feel to things, which give it its anarchic energy. Space Riders 2: Galaxy of Brutality #2 is unafraid to be vulgar, bombastic and just plain weird. But what makes the issue, and indeed the series as whole, so much fun is that fearlessness to go over the top. If you’re looking for complex sci-fi concepts, this isn’t the place for that. But don’t mistake that for a lack of ambition or intelligence. Instead, Ziritt and Rangel put all the creativity into the spirit and breadth of the book, which is genuinely like nothing else on the shelves right now.
The art remains amazing, and a huge component to the punk rock nature of the book. It’s one of the most alien books I’ve ever seen, where the future looks so insane and other-worldly, yet the art is so earthy and grungy that you never quite feel adrift in all the weirdness. There are too many gorgeous, weird, organic touches to count, and I love how the aesthetic of the book isn’t just reserved for the art within the panels, but applied to the whole design of the book itself. It’s deliberately designed to resemble an old, yellowed, dogeared book you might stumble across in the quarter bins, and when you combine that design sense with the underground style of the art itself, you get a book so punk it feels like you found it on Black Flag’s tour bus while listening to the Stooges “Raw Power.” You can’t fake that kind of free-spirited energy, you only get it from sticking to the concept of making a book you’d love to read, first and foremost.
The best way I can describe this book is like finding some sweaty, run-down dive bar in the middle of nowhere and then discovering the most incredible kick-ass punk band playing inside. The result is something that is completely singular and without pretence, but is still immensely creative, original and fun. For sheer, pure pleasure, you can’t do much better than Space Riders 2: Galaxy of Brutality #2. 9.5/10
Space Riders 2: Galaxy of Brutality #2 will be released tomorrow, June 14, 2017