Writer / Artist
Alternative editions:
Dega graphic novel review
Alternative editions:
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Oni Press - 978-1-63715-196-9
  • Release date: 2018
  • UPC: 9781637151969
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Science-Fiction

Such is Dan McDaid’s belief in Dega that he funded a self-published hardcover edition in 2021, the more widely available Oni Press edition following two years later.

It’s a slim, but cinematic story of a woman trapped on a hostile alien planet, each day a threatening test of survival. The early quoting of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’, before the Stranger Things-inspired revival it should be noted, at first seems random, perhaps just a tune McDaid likes, yet the lyrics can be transferred from referencing miscommunication to a more literal reflection of circumstances. They don’t improve for the never named explorer.

Much of the package is occupied by McDaid’s process pages and thoughts in an afterword, where he explains an intention that the pages were quickly completed. They do have a looseness to them without lacking detail, and McDaid has plenty of experience drawing other science fiction features, so knows his way around the important moments of telling such stories. It means the threats vary, some instant, others gradually constructed, and the sparing use of colour in a black and white world.

The strength of Dega is also what will ensure it lacks appeal for some readers. McDaid drops into a world where we witness a struggle and are privy to some thoughts, but there are no outright explanations, just incidents open to interpretation. Some are easily understood as acting toward a greater purpose, while others remain mystifying. Meaning is provided for an unusual title right at the end.

So, Dega isn’t for everyone, but if you enjoy an action-packed immersion in someone else’s struggle it’s more than worth a look.