Joyride #2 picks up shortly after we left our intrepid group of adventurers at the close of the first issue. In that debut issue fun-loving rebel outcast Uma convinces conforming war hero Dewydd to escape their repressive isolationist Earth society into the stars by stealing a passing alien spacecraft. They don’t count on Catrin Cosanova, a soldier and member of an important ruling family accidentally joining them, but the first issue concludes as the trio head out into the stars.
This issue finds the crew already hip deep in trouble on the first alien world on which they stop, making uneasy allies as Uma continually leads them into crazier adventures, unaware that the regime they escaped on Earth has no intention of letting them go without a fight.
Writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly have created an exciting, fun-filled, and witty punk-rock space opera centered around three interesting characters with wildly different points of view and reasons for the decisions they make. Uma could come off as insufferably quirky if she wasn’t suffused with an irrepressible joy at the adventure she’s on. The creative team constantly reminds us about the stifling dystopian Earth she’s fleeing, making her unbridled joy and reckless abandon feel more like a revolutionary statement than a forced “quirkiness.” The character of Catrin provides the intrigue, as she is clearly a person of importance back on Earth and therefore her reasons for even considering going with these two kids on their frankly insane plan aren’t yet fully defined, but it’s hinted she may be more conflicted about the Earth regime than she lets on, even as she still hasn’t fully given up on the idea of commandeering their stolen ship and heading home. The least interesting to me is Dewydd, though I wouldn’t say he’s boring or anything, just that he feels less original, more of an familiar figure. He’s the passive introvert who is clearly along for the ride out of his feelings for Uma, and while he’s rendered well, it’s just a type we’ve seen before.
But where the story really works for me is in the setting and world-building on display. The humans are hilariously unprepared for much of what they encounter in the issue, and though they have enough pluck and ingenuity to get them out the scrapes they’ve been in so far, it’s nice to see a Space Opera where Earth and its people are regarded as hopelessly clueless bumpkins, blessed with more charm than sense, in over their heads. The aliens here aren’t archetypes spouting purple dialogue and with rich cultures and traditions, these are people living their lives who are kind of annoyed at these idiot tourists they have to deal with who know next to nothing about where they are. It makes the issue even funnier, and it allows for our three protagonists to feel even more outmatched. But it also makes space feel like a vibrant, fun, risky, exciting place.
The art by Marcus To is as fun as the spirit of the issue, full of dynamism and adventure and grinning characters. The ships and technology are well designed, and his layouts give the issue a hyper-kinetic feel that makes the issue fly by. You can practically hear the pew-pew of the lasers as you read, and a lot of that energy has to do with how well To’s art matches the snappy pace of the dialogue and narrative.
Joyride #2 is a fun issue, and it really doesn’t try to be anything more than an exciting classic space opera. With engaging central characters and a charming and witty take on space adventures, you could do a lot worse when trying to find a comic to read for the simple old-school, gee-whizz fun of it. That’s why I give the issue a solid 9/10.
Joyride #2 will be released tomorrow, May 25, 2016.