Here’s Jamb from Pop Culture Bandit with a look at the first issue of Brass Sun
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Brass Sun is a recent addition to the 2000AD line-up, first appearing in a serialised form in Prog 1800 with the story, ‘Wheel of the Worlds‘, before reappearing with its second book, ‘The Diamond Age‘ shortly afterwards in Prog 1850. The series has a very distinct feel and atmosphere to other stories that have appeared in the anthology, which might be why it has proven so popular with the readers, leading to it being chosen as 2000AD’s first foray into the monthly US-sized comic format. This six-issue miniseries will collect the initial two books that have already appeared in 2000AD, as well as the third, yet to be released, chapter: ‘Floating Worlds‘.
The series is set in The Orrery, a “clock-punk” solar system made up of a ‘Brass Sun’ surrounded by planets rotating on cogs. However, the life-giving Brass Sun has begun to slow, causing an ice age to occur on the most distant planets, which has not gone unnoticed. The series’ lead protagonist, Wren, and her grandfather, have discovered that the whole system of planets is in danger, but are unable to appeal to the society they live in, which is deeply religious and believes in the ‘Cog’ rather than scientific facts. This conflict between science and faith forms the backbone of this first issue, as both Wren and her grandfather must begin their journeys to save the whole solar-system.
I absolutely loved this first issue, from its perfectly-designed front cover to the final page. As an introduction to the series, it does a fantastic job of crafting a truly unique looking universe with its ‘clock-punk’ designed world. The characters are superbly written, with the female lead, Wren, looking to follow in the footsteps of 2000AD’s long-held tradition of strong, female protagonists, such Judge Anderson, Durham Red and Halo Jones.
In the space of thirty pages, Ian Edgington (Scarlet Traces, Hinterkind) manages to create some really strong characters with complex motivations. Even though it was the first issue, the confrontation between Cadwallader and the Lord Archimandrite felt like the resolution of months of foreshadowing, and the events that occurred on the bridge had a climactic feel to them, rather than the initial beginnings of Wren’s quest. It’s a testament to Edgington’s writing that the reader is able to quickly identify with the characters and become attached to them within a short, space of time.
Alongside the fantastic script, the other major factor in the successful world-building is the absolutely beautiful and sublime artwork from INJ Culbard, which manages to evoke memories of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli films, particularly Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind, which the story shares many similarities with. As well as the clockwork design of the solar-system and the planets within it, Culbard’s artwork works seamlessly with Edgington’s words to stir up the emotions and bring a flavour of epic fantasy to the proceedings. However, despite Culbard’s ability to bring a sense of beauty to the storyline, he also manages to convey the brutal violence that also occurs, with Cadwallader’s brutal treatment at the hands of the Lord Archimandrite, as well as the injuries Wren receives trying to escape. While there is a sense of Studio Ghibli about this serial, it is quick to remind the reader of the brutal realities of the situation Wren is in, as well as raising the stakes if she should fail in her quest.
Overall, this is a truly brilliant opening issue to the Brass Sun storyline and a fantastic choice by 2000AD to launch their US-sized comics line. The series will appeal to fans of old-school fantasy epics, and there is a raft of subtle echoes to fantasy classics, such as: Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal and The Never-Ending Story within the script. Fans of this genre and those movies would do well to pick up this first issue and get immersed in this ‘clock-punk’ epic at the ground floor.