Forager graphic novel review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Jet City Comics - 978-1-477830-93-2
  • Release date: 2015
  • UPC: 9781477830932
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Ellie is being taken on holiday by her parents, but the space flight is boring when her mother’s unable to leave her job behind, which causes friction with her father. There don’t seem to be any other kids on the flight either. However, boredom turns out to be the least of Ellie’s problems as she’s not long into the voyage before she starts hearing singing angels, somehow taps into what others are thinking and having seizures.

The writing team of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti has a proven track record and a willingness to step away from superheroes, so a young adult graphic novel fits that pattern. They set things up efficiently, and make Ellie a sympathetic character, although readers have to be told that she’s on the low end of the autism spectrum as that doesn’t really transmit beforehand. The writers have investigated some dark subjects, and Forager isn’t entirely immune from that, but the first half is kept light and optimistic, which is reflected in the artwork. Steven Cummings keeps the audience in mind by ensuring everything is tidy, distinct and clear, and bright colours help with that.

Information supplied early and in passing is actually smart foreshadowing, and comes to have a bearing on a story about first contact that takes very effective jumps through time. That’s unusual, as is Ellie’s parents remaining core characters, and in many ways it’s actually their redemptive story arc. Alongside that Gray and Palmiotti keep readers guessing pretty well all the way through, flying in the face of expectation, yet always delivering thrills and excitement and even in moments of danger or distress prioritising possibilities and keeping humanity at the core.

It’s those qualities, however, that make Forager’s ending a letdown. It reads as if planned as the first of a series, and no sequel ever emerged. Everything that’s necessary is tied up, but something a little more dynamic might have better fitted the bill.