There’s a lot I could say about Higher Earth; from its familiar parallel world storyline or the somewhat typical Sci-Fi elements becasue as I’ve read this book the originality of the story has progressively declined. On the other hand though that same story and the human moments within have stayed with me from issue to issue. As familiar as this issue felt while reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It got me thinking about something else as well… what’s more important in storytelling: Fresh and new ideas that supposedly have never been done before or a story that stays with you?
Picking up where the last issue left off, Rex is dead…dying. He’s placed his body into hibernation of sorts in order to slow the process and in the meantime jacked into his bird’s mainframe. Once there he sucks Heidi in as well, who once again craps her pants due to her lack of understanding of technology. Rex fully and finally explains the parallel earth structure that is essentially the guiding force behind the plot. It’s boring, but I’m sure someone out there really wanted to know how the system worked and that’s part of the fun of Sci-Fi stories anyways. Heidi gets fed up and basically wants out until Rex plays a pre-recorded message for her.
On Higher Earth Sloan, one of many parallel Rex’s, requests an audience with the Queen who is singing for a group of children. Through their conversation we’re informed that the Queen is new to her role. Sloan recommends sending a kill switch-esc command to Rex and finishing him off for good. The Queen forbids it as she seems to have quite the history with Rex and his bird.
The part that really stuck with me is the one part I cannot spoil for you, which really sucks because I want so desperately to talk to someone about it even if they’re just anonymously reading this. It involves the pre-recorded message and let me just say that it develops Rex into a character you actually care about. He’s pretty much just been an asshole this entire time which is cool and all, but unless you’re an unstoppable killing machine asshole it gets really old. Humphries writing for this issue is some of his best, but he has this tendency of breaking up dramatic scenes with really awkward comedic moments. I’m sure some fans really enjoyed it, but personally it sucked me out of the scene each time. From reading some of his other writing I would say it’s definitely his signature style, but this book has always come across more serious than goofy and I wonder if he can be 100% serious.
The art has been consistent, balanced and well-crafted throughout the series thus far; but with this issue Biagini has real material to work with. He’s given the brain node to conquer along with the job of creating a look for the Queen and Higher Earth itself. Where he really excels though, is with the facial expressions of each scene. A wide range of emotions are covered throughout this issue and it makes the story all the stronger because of Biagini's art.
I’m not only curious to see what Humphries does with the story in the next issue, but how the characters develop as well. With this issue the story no longer needs to be explained to us, although I’m sure there will be an issue that covers Rex’s plan to stop the parallel earth exploitation system. Additionally, Humphries either needs new Sci-Fi references or to create ones of his own. Either way, the next issue has had a great set up so let’s hope it pans out.
Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Francesco Biagini
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Release Date: 8/29/12