"Trees #2" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Jason Howard
2014, 24 Pages, $2.99
Comic released on June 25th, 2014
Just about all of the sci-fi movies I've seen that deal with alien invasions feature the UFOs swooping in and destroying everything in sight. It's a full on war like Mars Attacks all the time. What if that wasn't their style though? What if they just dropped a bunch of crap and left? That's sort of the idea with Trees. A few years ago aliens installed several huge pillars around the world. No one knows what they do or how they work. They just stand there...kind of like trees. OMG. I just got that. (Not really.) Fast forward to the present where humanity is trying to make heads or tails about this situation, researching the cylinders as much as they can.
The series is written by Warren Ellis, who at this point can sneeze on a piece of paper and comic book fans (myself included) will buy it without thinking. The guy knows a thing or two about writing a good funny book. These kind of reviews are the hardest to write because I genuinely like Trees, but it's difficult to tell you exactly why. Ellis has a way of luring you in with his story, fully engulfing you in his world. This is the type of comic that could be binge-read (is that a thing?) all at once because it's so easy to get wrapped up in everything.
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After establishing the new status quo with the first issue, the comic provides snapshots of various locations around the globe, showing how different areas are faring in the shadow of the trees. Some are going on like normal, ignoring the new landscape. Others are studying them, like the Arctic station that has received the most coverage of the series so far. Something is growing on or around a nearby tree and it shouldn't be. What are these things doing to the environment? No one knows.
The interesting thing about Trees is that it's an alien book without aliens. These big pillars were plopped all over the place with no regard for the civilization nearby. Then nothing happened. Mankind wasn't enslaved. They didn't go to war. The aliens don't care. We're like ants to them, if that. We like to think that humanity (or at least America) is the center of the universe, so the idea of some off-planet race stopping by and not immediately asking to be taken to our leader is crazy. It's almost hard to process. Why wouldn't they want to talk to us? Learn from us? We have all these interesting things! Have you seen the Quesarito? It's a burrito wrapped in a quesidilla! You don't have that on whatever planet you come from.
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Jason Howard's artwork provides a sense of normalcy to Trees. This is a very character driven story and Howard's art puts them at center stage. The backgrounds are well detailed but you're never drawn to anything other than the people. They just seem brighter than everything around them. When the trees do appear on the page, they're bland and boring, nothing more than big sticks rising up to the heavens.
The cover for this issue is a little trippy, featuring a man in shadow with hair sticking straight up, mixed with grass and flowers. It's a subtle change on his head but it looks really cool. It's the kind of thing I'd expect from an album cover.
The mystery in Trees is no closer to being solved with the second issue, but I'm not sure that it ever needs to be. I want to learn more about the world now that humanity has been knocked down a peg. Sure, I'd like to find out where the trees came from and what they actually do, but for the time being I'm content just roaming through Ellis' creations.