Cover by Michael Golden.
The last couple editions (literally; there have only been two) of this column have been about ongoing series. This one’s a bit different, because you’re gonna have to find a well-stocked comic shop or hit up Amazon if you want to find it. You need to read OCEAN, written by Warren Ellis, penciled by Chris Sprouse, and inked by Karl Story, first published as a six-issue miniseries by WildStorm way back in 2004 and now available in a couple of different versions of trade paperback.
Why choose this one? There are lots of trade paperbacks out there, right? Why pick this one out?
Europa, that’s why. Europa, along with Io and Enceladus, is one of the three coolest moons in the solar system. Europa and Io both orbit Jupiter, and Enceladus orbits Saturn– and, in fact, is mostly responsible for one of Saturn’s rings. Europa is notable for one major reason: it’s basically an ice shell around a massive undersea ocean. There is probably something alive in there somewhere, and we’ll find it eventually.
What’s OCEAN about? It’s “100 years from now.” Humanity has expanded out into the solar system; it takes a week to get from Mars to Jupiter. We don’t have much out there, though. Just a science station much like the ISS, and another corporate station run by an organization called Doors.
(Doors is kinda the weak spot of the comic. You’re supposed to go hurr durr Microsoft I get things corporations is evil and then move on; I feel like Ellis is better than this, but then again this thing was printed over a decade ago.)
So, yeah. Doors. They’re not nice people:
All interior art by Sprouse and Story
But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. In the course of exploring Europa’s ocean, we’ve found something. Quite a lot of somethings, in fact.
The main character, a UN weapons inspector named Nathan Kane, is dispatched from New York to Europa to deal with the discovery. He… well, we’ll say he encounters some resistance, and if you’re wondering why the UN would send a weapons inspector to deal with billion-year-old alien coffins floating in a lunar ocean in Jovian orbit, congratulate yourself: Kane isn’t sure at first either.
Warren Ellis is really, really good at looking at some existing scientific phenomenon and writing a what’s the deal with that sort of story. One of his newsletters musing about some deep holes that had just been discovered on Mars led directly to my novel SKYLIGHTS, because I waited for a year for him to write about it and he never did. OCEAN is a perfect example of this trick of his, and is packed full of twists and turns, clever future technology, and the occasional bit of Ellis trademark humor:
Check it out, kids.