Review by Frank Plowright
As with his other long-running series, Robert Kirkman offers readers a choice of format. This hardcover tells a complete story, and provides a more luxurious alternative to the two trades Chapter One and Chapter Two. If you’ve got the money it’s worth considering for what’s a classy horror/SF thriller.
Ten years before the first page, a massive area of Phildelphia was transferred to another dimension. Nathan Cole has created a way of entering that dimension, a place inhabited by fearsome and dangerous strange creatures, but who’re largely mindless. Nathan is driven to return everyone still alive to Earth, but after a decade and diminishing returnees, there’s no political will to fund his endeavours.
An artistically impressive opening sequence is largely wordless, and shows Nathan avoiding danger as he runs into several massive alien creatures. It also shows Lorenzo De Felice as the complete package artist. He’s good with movement and conversations, with design and storytelling, and with action and emotions. Better still, he ensures people look ordinary, and how the life they’ve lived is reflected in the way they look. As seen by the sample art, he can transport readers to another world and convince them that world exists, yet still have touchstones of the familiar. The alien effect is cemented by colourist Annalisa Leoni, who uses muted tones.
While Nathan is the introduction to Oblivion Song, and remains central, Kirkman gradually increases the human cast and involves us in their lives and concerns. He has a faultless TV dramatist’s instinct for keeping human considerations central in the most alien of circumstances, and is great at painting people in shades of grey. Oblivion Song’s heroes have their names on memorials, while almost everyone who matters in the cast has feet of clay.
It all contributes to a compelling horror drama well enough distanced from Kirkman’s other horror projects. This is more widescreen, with disclosures timed to keep things fresh, and the shocks very well planned. Having a complete story between two covers is an obvious benefit of the hardcover, and it also reveals the neat foreshadowing where something seemingly inconsequential has a later pay-off. However, just because there’s a great story set in a new world doesn’t rule out more to come, and that’s in Book Two.