Dark Horse Comics SHAPER #1 introduces us to a whole new look at what life is out there in the universe. In SHAPER, one of the galaxy’s military branches, the Caliphate, is entrusted in the capture of an alien species called SHAPER, that has the ability to change their form. The species hasn’t been seen for years, but the Caliphate are still hunting them.
Admittedly, who wouldn’t be a little skeptical about SHAPER at first? I mean, what hasn’t been done with shapeshifter’s that hasn’t already been done? However, Eric Heisserer takes things in a totally new direction that readers would not have considered beforehand. Heisserer takes the abilities of the species to a genetic level, with each new generation’s powers potentially more advanced than the last. Introducing a new scientific approach to something that has been done countless times, makes SHAPER far more intriguing than it was when shapeshifters just changed shape, giving their abilities a deeper meaning.
Heisserer does a fantastic job explaining the backstory of SHAPER leading up to the beginning of this issue, using minimal non-character narrative. Heisserer drives the book to focus on its characters, defining each tremendously within a single issue, especially the hero of the book, Spry.
Spry is seemingly an orphan, who’s personality is inevitably that of a rebellious teenager, but is revealed to be secretly more intelligent than he makes himself out to be. Heisserer plays well on Spry’s inner geek, using this opportunity to get readers up to speed using a handy parallel through Spry’s card game based on those in the Caliphate. It is eventually revealed what truly lies ahead for Spry; he is a Shaper, who’s genetics could be the most advanced of their species.
Felipe Massafera, artist of SHAPER, along with colourist Wes Dzioba, provide a very lush, vibrant and detailed world in SHAPER. The pair works hand-in-hand, giving the book a modern yet alien-like feel to the environment. Each panel is significantly detailed, more noticeably in the close ups of many of the characters. Dzioba wastes no space with his colour, with as much of an attention to detail as Massafera’s characters, and every single page in the issue benefits from it.
The first issue of the series comes out of the gate strong, bringing something new that feels like a breath of fresh air, taking a different spin on the sic-fi genre. The book not only feels like on old sci-fi flick, but looks the part as well, giving it a very unique atmosphere. The most intriguing scenes are when a shaper changes its form, at one point with one changing into a dragon-like creature, including the abilities of one such dragon. Not only does this show that the shapers can just simply change form, but gain the abilities of what the form into as well. You get pulled into the detail in the visuals, making the characters look impeccably. It’s truly astounding at what Heisserer has done to shapeshifters. He has managed to move them in a completely different direction, and in a world in the vast depths of space, we’ll be able to see this species change into anything.
SHAPER is destined to become a sci-fi phenomenon, bringing along a new take on shapeshifters that hasn’t been done before. It feels like the possibilities for the book are endless, and it’s going to be exciting to see where Eric Heisserer takes the book in the coming series.
“SHAPER #1” gets a 9/10