This issue marks the end of the first arc of Port of Earth. The series had slowly built up tension for the first three issues, and in this one the ESA’s confrontation with a rogue alien comes to a head! Zack Kaplan, Andrea Mutti, and Vladimir Popov have produced a beautiful and thought inducing book.
This issue has by far the brightest cover of the issues to date, and also features more colour than any other scene in any issue. I love how it contrasts with previous books. It features the sun setting behind the port, casting the sky in a bright red hue. It’s just plain beautiful.
Andrea Mutti has a very unique style that feels like it was made for this book. The pencils at times feel gritty, yet the level of detail is very high. The backgrounds are well fleshed out, as are all the characters. Little details are included in the ESA uniforms and in the characters themselves. The only thing that lacks detail is the alien, which I feel was done by design and helps to maintain both the mystery and sense of danger around them. The colours are light, creating a sort of sterile setting that emulates a futuristic factory. It just really breathes life into the story as a whole.
This issue begins immediately in the aftermath of issue #3 with Mac and George pursuing the rogue alien into the water engine factory. They initially back off the alien, leaving a containment team to try to corral it while they escort the workers to safety. The containment team is soon dispatched, and the alien pursues Mac, George and the plant workers.
This leads to an explosive confrontation that leaves Georges love interest dead. This scene is frantic and messy, much as one would expect it to be, almost like we have to keep up with the action as though we were in the middle of it.
Another fantastic feature of the book is the ESA executive being interviewed by a member of the press. These interview sections act as bookends, and Kaplan uses them to weave some historical context into the story. We have numerous occasions in our own history where cultures encountered each other for the first time, and the way that those examples are referenced and weaved into the story is utterly fascinating.
As of the time of writing(March 2019), the third arc is just under a month away from release. The first two are available in trades, and with the way the narrative is constructed it’s a great way to get started. Also, go to your local store and have them get you Issue #9 in April, as cerebral sci-fi comics like this are not easy to come by!