I'm sure that when the "Sky Pirates of Neo Terra" video game debuts next year, my then 9-year-old son will have a difficult decision to make. It won't be whether or not he should spend his saved allowance money on the game, but whether he should spend it on the version for the Nintendo DS or splurge for the Wii version. My son's the gamer in the family, not me, but after reading the first issue of "Sky Pirates of Neo Terra," I can tell that this would be just the kind of electronic world he'd want to immerse himself in.
This comic book series (slated for five issues) isn't scheduled to premiere until the end of next month, but writer Josh Wagner sent CBR a review copy of issue #1 because he wants to draw some attention to the comic, and rightly so. This is a series with some fabulous art by Camilla D'Errico, and the Miyazaki-style world she creates for this series is a grand visual achievement.
"But wait!" you may be thinking, "isn't this just a comic book adaptation of a video game? That can't be any good, can it?" Well, that's not exactly what this is. First of all, as explained in the supplemental material for issue #1, the "Sky Pirates" world was originally created by Sean Megaw and Camilla D'Errico for a potential comic book series. But since Megaw works in the video game industry, he worked with D'Errico to put together a game pitch. And soon their humble little comic book series -- which was still but a concept -- became the basis for a couple of Nintendo games. So here we have writer Josh Wagner telling a story in the world of Neo Terra, with original concept artist Camilla D'Errico drawing the entire thing. It's what you'd call synergy in the corporate world, but in the comics world, we'd just call it a cool opportunity to see D'Errico cut loose on interiors.
The first issue doesn't tell much in the way of story, but it sets up that characters and the world quite well. It's a simply defined world -- a high-tech fantasy world with clear representations of good and evil -- but that dreamlike innocence is a good part of its charm. We meet Billy Boom-Boom, glidewing racer and precocious hero, who looks a bit like Zelda's Link but has a rugged charm all his own. We meet the loyal Suma, a cute young girl who looks out for Billy. We meet young mechanic Ricket. And just when things become almost unbearably charming, we cut to the Forgotten Isle where the Pirate King arrives with a present for a dreadful skull-wearing female. Mysterious indeed.
This series has an airy lightness to it, appropriate for a comic about hot shot glidewing pilots, but it also has a sense that doom is fast approaching. Doom expertly rendered by Camilla D'Errico and vibrantly assisted by the storybook hues of colorist Simon Bork.
Though you might not expect a series tied to a video game to have this kind of quality, "The Sky Pirates of Neo Terra" #1 is a delightful series that could easily appeal to readers of all ages. I might not show it to my son, though, or he'll start bugging me about the video game already.