Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date – 25 September 2018
Those looking for the next amazing comic book adventure they can get addicted to should look no further than Skyward, one of 2018’s breakout hits, which takes away a fundamental force and replaces it with a sensational story.
One day, around the planet, gravity all but disappeared, and the one thing that was previously holding everything to Earth’s surface all of a sudden became a fraction of what it previously was. In the resultant chaos, huge swathes of the population simply floated away into the atmosphere. Those that remained were forced to adjust to a new world with different rules.
Twenty years later, humanity has adapted to its new low-gravity reality. For some, such as Willa Fowler, it’s the only way of life they have ever known, and Willa excels at navigating the skies above Chicago. Living with her father, Nathan, a brilliant scientist traumatised by the events that sent his wife tumbling into the skies, Willa scrapes a living as a high-speed delivery girl with a number of risky and dangerous tricks up her sleeve. But when her father reveals he has a way to bring gravity back, Willa doesn’t believe him and instead plans a meeting with Roger Barrow, her father’s rich former research partner, who has created much of the technology that allows the world to survive its new situation. Descending to ‘The Streets’ of Chicago, the lowest level, inhabited by its richest citizens, Willa quickly discovers that Barrow is not the saviour she thought he would be. Instead he is determined to keep gravity from returning, and will go to extreme lengths to stop Willa and her father.
This is one of the first comic book works from Henderson, whose main claim to fame is as showrunner for the Lucifer television show. The artist, Garbett, is probably best known for his work on the comic Loki: Agent of Asgard. Together, this new team has created an incredible new comic book series that has already been picked up by Sony for a potential feature film, and it will be intriguing to see how this challenging and creative series will be adapted to the screen. This first volume contains issues #1-5 of this new series.
Skyward contains an excellent story that examines life in a different and catastrophically affected version of Earth while also presenting an action-packed adventure with a wild protagonist. The central idea of this series, the removal of gravity, is a crazy concept that allows for an exceptional overall package that combines great storytelling with incredible and unique artwork. Throughout this first volume, there is a great combination of humour, action, character development and powerful emotional moments, all set within a fascinating new world shown in great artistic detail.
It was quite intriguing to see the various ways in which a lack of gravity could affect the world that we live in. Henderson and Garbett have come up with a range of different ways for the characters in this book to navigate around the skyline, and it is interesting to see the range of tools that are shown in the artwork. The creative team has done an amazing job highlighting the various ways that the lack of gravity has affected the world, from food production to water gathering to human mobility. One of the more intriguing aspects of the new world is the way in which guns have become obsolete due to the recoil pushing shooters back through the air, making it an ineffective weapon and more dangerous to the user than the target. That said, the protagonist, Willa, has some more extreme and effective uses for the gun she carries around with her. Perhaps the most intriguing idea presented in Skyward is the location known as The Streets, the lowest street level of Chicago, where the city’s richest inhabitants live in a state of denial at the changes that have happened and are trying to live like there is still gravity. This includes wearing grav-boots to keep them stuck to the ground and forcing a man with no legs to sit in a wheelchair rather than floating in the air as he would prefer. There are also some crazy inventions, like a magnetised hem to keep a dress from rising up. These inhabitants of The Streets are absolutely terrified of the sky and have a very different lifestyle from the people living in Chicago’s skyline, who have embraced the new world. One funny scene involves Willa traumatising an obnoxious bouncer by wrecking his grav-boots and making him float up into the sky a little. Overall, this is a fun new world to set this great story in and has a lot of potential for future volumes of this series, where additional changes to day-to-day life are no doubt going to be revealed.
The artwork in Skyward is just gorgeous and is definitely a key highlight of this incredible book. The creative team have done an outstanding job showing off the low-gravity concept in art form, creating some fantastic scenes and drawings. Most of the characters are shown floating around and navigating the air, which creates some amazing panoramas of the city from high above for the reader to enjoy. All the characters, even those rich individuals trying to ignore the lack of gravity, are shown with their hair floating up in the sky, and multiple scenes have various liquids floating in the air around the characters attempting to have drinks. It also means that fight scenes are constantly surrounded by droplets of blood that float around the characters and add a whole new sense of realism and brutality to the story. The artistic highlight of this book has to be the incredible and exceptional drawings of the storm in low gravity that becomes such a massive part of the background in the later part of the volume. Due to the effects of the low gravity, the storm manifests itself as a gigantic ball of water in the sky, surrounding several high-rise buildings. The first drawing of this is amazing, and the following scenes which show the main characters navigating around this bubble and creating massive pockets of air are just fantastic, and represent some exceptional comic book art. I was also suitably terrified by several of the drawings in this volume, from the opening scenes which show multiple people being lifted away by the low gravity, to the horrifying shot of the planet Earth and its new artificial ring, made up of planes, cars, ships, other debris and of course multiple dead animals and humans that have not decayed in their 20 years in orbit. Lee Garbett and the creative team have outdone themselves in Skyward and I cannot speak highly enough of the artwork in this book.
The main character, Willa, is an excellent protagonist for this series. As a character who has never known what it’s like to live in a world with gravity, Willa’s antics through the air are pretty crazy and she does some amazing and unpredictable things throughout the book. Whether it’s using a gun to gain rapid altitude and to come down again, or blowing out a window underwater in a low-gravity storm of water after creating an air pocket with her oxygen tank. The constant incredulity of the other characters as she does these things is very amusing and makes it quite clear that these actions are not the social norm in the new world. My favourite quote of the books is when the antagonist, realising that Willa is about to blow open a window with her gun says ‘She wouldn’t…’ while Willa’s friend who is being held hostage responds with ‘Oh, she would.’ I must again return to the artwork of Skyward when it comes to showing off this main character. The artists do a fantastic job highlighting the joy on Willa’s face as she flies around in the upper city; she looks like she was born to float. I also loved the drawings that show off her crazy antics, from the early sequence which shows her using a gun to blast off away from people attacking her, to that fantastic scene where she blows open the underwater window. The drawings themselves are incredible and really show off the action, while the looks of shock and amazement on the faces of onlookers tell a whole new story. Henderson and Garbett have created a perfect main character and protagonist in Willa, and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to in future volumes of this series.
Skyward is an incredible new series from the fantastic team of Henderson and Garbett. I really enjoyed the central concept of a lack of gravity, as it allowed the creative team to present a bold and exceptional new setting for this exciting and powerful story. I really cannot hype up the artwork of this series enough, and I love the various ways that the artists show off what impacts these gravitational changes would have to everyday life on the planet. An outstanding five-star start to a series with incredible potential, this is the perfect read for current comic book readers and a great starting point for those trying to break into the medium.