Nick Sagan and Mark Long's Shrapnel series returns with the first of a three issue series called Hubris. The thing I love about Radical comics is quite often they give you a little more bang for your buck and in the case of Hubris you get 64 pages for only $4.99, not a bad way to introduce you to a new series.
Readers of Sagan and Minnis's sci-fi story will be aided in their adventures if they've read Aristeia Rising as it sets up the story and universe of Shrapnel and because Hubris is a direct sequel to the events in Aristeia Rising. If you haven't read the Aristeia Rising then don't let that put you off. You may find yourself a little bit lost at times in regards to some of the relationships that have developed and situations that are alluded to, but on the whole there is enough back story sprinkled throughout the story to let you know what's going on.
Hubris begins with the universe's last free colony, Venus, under siege. The colony is in bad shape with scarcely enough food and other supplies to survive much longer, while the Solar Alliance are implementing an effective media war which is painting the rebels from Venus as the aggressor and root of all evil in the campaign. What this means is its a desperate time that calls for desperate measures, and hero of the rebellion and ex-marine Vijaya "Sam" Narayan has a daring plan that just might tip the balance.
The issue really benefits from its extended length. It allows Sagan and Minnis time to adequately set-up the dire situation of Venus and the importance of the mission they are about the embark on, a daring attempt to bypass the planetary blockade and eliminate the Alliance's access to a key resource. There's also real emotion and passion in the story. The Shrapnel universe is made up of a diverse group of people who either have something to prove, something to lose or something to fight for and there are some really poignant moments in the story where the emotion really comes through, like after the pods launch into space or when Stap confronts Sam about the state of their friendship.
This emotion also means all the action, which is limited, is quite powerful and memorable because there's a real sense that someone's lost someone as a result of that action. One thing I didn't like was Sam's crazy dream in the first volume. It did nothing for me. I understand it was supposed to be an expression of Sam's fear of failing people, but we'd just gone over that, so it seemed unnecessary to me.
What I liked most about Concept Art House's artwork — and this could sound odd — is it looked dirty. It looked like Venus is on its last legs and desperately in need of everything if its going to survive. The one thing I didn't like is, at times, when you were shown a face from a distance it didn't look right. It may have been overly bright or had a distorted expression but something about them just looked creepy and weird.
Speaking of expressions, sometimes I didn't think the expression quite matched up to what the person was saying. Also, while the artwork was of a high quality throughout — with the explosion on page six looking mind-blowing awesome — there was one page, evidently another explosion, which randomly had some black squiggles that looked like someone had spilled coffee or something on the page. It really stuck out because the rest of the story was so well illustrated.
Hubris should please fans of the Shrapnel series as it continues Venus's struggle for freedom. Concept Art House create a drab and depressing Venus, which really hammers home the desperate situation they are in while the story is full of emotion from people who are very near their breaking point. Add to that a 10 page preview of Legends: The Enchanted a rather twisted look at some of your favorite fairy tales, and Shrapnel: Hubris is a great buy.