Putting a sci-fi spin on the road movie concept, Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus’s Void Trip comes to us via Image Comics and is the product of a team with an already recognised collaborative record on T-Pub’s Turncoat.
The story centres on Ana and Gabe, the last two humans in the galaxy, on their trip to the promised land of the “hippy-paradise super-planet Euphoria”. A kind of cosmic slacker comedy-travelogue, much of the focus of this first issue is on the pair’s gloriously irresponsible antics. These include appropriating the resources they need for their journey in dubious circumstances, getting intoxicated on “froot” (this universe’s narcotic of choice) and Ana’s illogical yet peculiarly enticing philosophical ramblings.
But the pair are also being hunted by a ruthless killer who is also in cahoots with a bumbling alien private eye. What are the reasons for this ruthless and often brutal pursuit? And why is the entity stalking them so determined to catch up with the duo…?
Much of the appeal of this first issue is in the odd couple relationship between the unrepentantly “living in the moment” Ana and the more pragmatic and dour Gabe. O’Sullivan wisely uses this opening chapter to establish his protagonists with the readership, ensuring through their core comedic interactions that an immediate connection is formed between the audience and these roguish but strangely endearing leads. At the same time he gives us just enough hints about the wider world(s) they inhabit, and their back stories, to act as hooks for future issues.
Plaid Klaus is key in forging this reader/character bond with some deft visual characterisation. His placement of slightly caricatured lead players on more realistically rendered backgrounds gives them a far more expressive and relatable quality and his use of colour adds another moody layer to some of the desolate alien terrains we travel through in these pages.
O’Sullivan and Klaus’s partnership is at its best in the more overtly comedic sequences with some neat time jumps between scenes playing with that “reading between the panels” nature of comics to humorous effect as Ana and Gabe’s escapades go ludicrously awry. There’s also a neat comicky in-joke or two here as well and some hallucinogenic silliness that cleverly shifts in and out of narrative reality.
Admittedly, Void Trip #1 sets up characters and relationships far more than it explains plot or premise and, from that perspective, it remains to be seen where the book goes beyond its initial extended chase scenes and oddball buddy movie-style intro. But there’s something eminently likeable about this pair of bickering protagonists, and the creative synergy that characterises O’Sullivan and Klaus’s pages is undeniable throughout. One to watch for certain…
Ryan O’Sullivan (W), Plaid Klaus (A) Aditya Bidikar (L) • Image Comics, $3.99