We're smack in the middle of this five-issue series and things have taken a darker turn.
If you recall, "Sky Pirates of Neo Terra" is an adaptation of an upcoming video game, except its not so much an adaptation as a foundation-building. The artist here, Camilla D'Errico, designed these characters, this world, as a comic book, and it was turned into a video game before the comic was even written. So it's not the normal, "hey, the kids like the Super Mario, so lets make a comic about those characters fighting some cool monsters" kind of thing.
And it's not the impenetrable and continuity-laden "Sonic the Hedgehog," thankfully. Seriously, have you ever tried reading that comic? It's like reading a late-60s Stan Lee comic combined with the expository flair of a Dungeons & Dragons compendium, except with Sega characters. And not as good as that even implies.
But "Sky Pirates of Neo Terra" is good. This issue may be the weakest so far, but that's largely due to middle-of-the-story unfolding (issue #3 jumps around more than the first two, mostly to set things up for the climax), and because of some problems with the encroaching darkness.
Because our hero, Billy Boom-Boom, has entered the sinkhole in his quest for the crystals, much of "Sky Pirates" #3 is colored in darker hues than the previous issues. And though we've had glimpses of the darkness before, something about Simon Bork's colors this time seem a bit too blocky. Perhaps because he's not working with an airy palette during those sequences, Bork's computerized rendering of the D'Errico pencils start to look more Ken Steacy than Hayao Miyazaki.
The art stuffers a bit at those points, but by the end of the issue, when the actual Sky Pirates attack against the backdrop of the blue sky, the lush and dreamlike quality of the art returns. And Billy and his increasingly strange companions break into dynamic action.
In my previous reviews of this series, I've mentioned how much my son would like this comic, and how much my daughter did like it. I'm flying solo on this review, and I can safely say that I like "Sky Pirates of Neo Terra" quite a bit. Video game tie-in or not, it feels fresh, alive, and full of the kind of energy that comics so rarely capture in these days of serious superhero melodrama and earth-shaking events. No, this is a comic about fathers and sons, life and death, great adventure and the potential for tragedy, but it never loses sight of the fact that it's telling a story. One full of wonder. Imagination, unleashed.