"Void" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Titan Comics
Written by Herik Hanna
Illustrated by Sean Phillips
2014, 48 Pages
Graphic novel released on September 3rd, 2014
Remember that episode of Ren & Stimpy called Space Madness, where all kinds of crazy shit happens that ultimately results in history being erased? Well, Void isn't exactly like that, but the title certainly applies. John is aboard the prison ship Goliath 01. He's the sole survivor after the vicious Colonel “No Mercy” Mercer has slaughtered everyone else on the ship. Now he's struggling to escape before the Colonel can claim him as his next victim.
At least, that's how it looks at first. When you get into Void, you realize that not everything is as it seems. John is an unreliable narrator in that he might be losing his mind. He sees things such as a circus and a naked woman. He rationalizes them, but they have no place on the Goliath 01. So is Mercer really out to get him? Or did John make it all up?
This gets to the beauty of this graphic novel. Writer Herik Hanna has you constantly second guessing yourself as the reader. You will always wonder what is real and what is imaginary. How much of John's story is true? The tension mounts with each page as John makes his way through the ship. He's uncertain as to what lies around the next corner and neither do you.
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Artist Sean Phillips sets the tone of Void perfectly. The comic can simultaneously feel cramped and wide open as we follow John through the tight corridors of the Goliath 01 and then pan out to see how small it is when compared to the vastness of space. There's a scene where John comes upon a window and he explains that this area can be particularly damaging to the mental health of its travelers. You can imagine staring out into nothing as you're confined in this prison ship hurtling through the stars. No wonder he's crazy.
Phillips is also a talented storyteller, zooming in on a number of small details and little moments within each scene. There are many pages with ten or more panels, each offering a glimpse at a specific aspect of the setting, such as a decapitated corpse or John stepping in a pool of blood. It doesn't feel like an action movie with a number of fast cuts. Instead it's the opposite, giving the reader enough time to soak in every little characteristic about the story and really feel the terror build.
In many ways, Void reminds me of The Shining, only set in space. You watch as the main character delves deeper and deeper into madness, spiraling completely out of control. Of course, Stephen King's book never had a talking banana, so Void has one up on it there.