Kim Keller has accepted a request that she accompany a large colonisation ship heading to Antares. She’s unaware those funding the trip want to exploit her expertise and almost celebrity status when it comes to dealing with alien civilisations, and of problems they’ve not disclosed to anyone in the crew. They further have an almost puritan religious agenda, another matter not revealed to Kim when she signed up for reasons of her own, but known to anyone who read Episode 1.

The increasingly stifling atmosphere of the journey occupies the opening half of the book, and clarifies that Kim has made a mistake in believing she’s on her way to a better life. Leo’s extrapolation of horrific circumstances beyond the ability of persecuted individuals to change is generally well conveyed, with the lapses due to simplification required by a need to move the story forward. It’s an indication of progress on Leo’s part, because had this been in the Aldebaran portion of the series, the creator he was at the time would have in all likelihood extended these discussions far further to the overall detriment of the story.

That story is, in isolation, very good, but Leo himself underlines the similarities to earlier plots by having Kim say “I thought I’d never have to go through this sort of thing again, never be this scared again. We’ve been here five minutes…” Other repeated elements include a group trapped in a jungle with unknown predators, Alexa jailed yet again, and ignorant parties dealing with unknown forces making matters much worse. Two elements introduced in Episode 1 both recur intriguingly, and a strong emphasis on characterisation runs through Episode 2, with several highly emotional moments. The rapid development of a child named Lynn appears very convenient, but Leo’s earned some trust.

Artistically, the art is as splendid as ever, with the placidity of the cover scene not reflected within. The creatures pictured are also absent, but as introducing new life forms is Leo’s speciality there’s no disappointment on that score.

Ignore Leo retreading old ground and this is an engaging graphic novel. It sets the scene extremely well via introducing several incompatible elements, has a strong dramatic pull and moves the plot forward intriguingly. It makes Episode 3 something to look forward to.