Countdown to Danger: “Lost in Space” finds a good formula on the page
“Danger, Will Robinson!”
Thus ends the dump of my encyclopedic knowledge of the Lost in Space franchise. It’s not that I don’t like it—it’s that I was never exposed to it. Lacking the pull of childhood nostalgia, I never got around to checking it out as an adult, either—until now. Lost in Space: Countdown to Danger #1 is described as an expansion of the latest televised iteration of the property, and I think it just may be the perfect two-way bridge: bringing those who like the show into comics, with an accessible aesthetic and two compact stories; and, bringing those (like me) with no ties to the show into the audience for that.
A word to long-time fans
As I said, I’m new to all of this, so I’m not going to be doing any comparisons to the source material. Bear that in mind if you’re particular about canon and character interpretation—I won’t be addressing those things.
The artwork in Countdown is supplied by Zid, with coloring assists by Syncraft Studios. I’m not sure what Mr./Miss Zid’s process is like, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lot of assistance from software. That’s not a dig, either—it’s just that the characters look super-realistic to the point that I sometimes wonder if the art started as photographs and got “paintified” in some application. The quality of facial rendering is better than that of any video game I’ve played in recent years, and those usually take much longer to make.
This level of realism isn’t typically my cup of tea, but it’s much easier to take here. The lines are pleasantly imperfect and of variable weight, and the color has a lot more texture than I’m used to in highly-realistic comic art. The lighting all looks very natural, and that candied sheen that is so pervasive in coloring at Marvel and DC is mercifully absent.
The visual storytelling is also quite good, and that might be the best evidence against digitally “comicking up” photos—Zid certainly doesn’t appear to have been limited in layout or perspective, so either there were a ton of photographs to choose from, or this is just exceptional, drawn and colored realism. Either way, the finished product is something that will ease comics newbs in without compromising sequential credibility. I’d say that’s a pretty impressive feat.
Oh, and they hired Comicraft for the letters, so those look outstanding, too.
Light, but intriguing
I imagine I would have benefited from watching the Netflix series before reading this, as the circumstances leading up to the Robinson family’s ascension to the stars and quick descension to an alien planet are glossed over. To be fair, again, the book is pitched as an expansion of the series; and, for my tastes, I’m perfectly fine getting a spare introduction to characters and observing them in the middle of whatever they’re doing. Richard Dinnick’s opening story gives us a pretty good taste of each major character, at any rate, and Brian Buccellato’s closing tale is a cute closeup on Penny Robinson.
I’m not sure what Legendary’s endgame is with a book like this—whether they’re hoping to turn a profit from the comic, or that they’re viewing it as a marketing expense for the Netflix show. Wherever they’re aiming, I think they’ve managed to hit both targets well enough. The quality of the book is much higher than what we typically would expect from promotional comics, and because of that, it actually makes me want to watch the series. And frankly, it makes me want to pick up the next graphic novel, too. Go find your copy in comic shops now.