There’s nothing exactly wrong with “Station” #4. The mystery surrounding murder on the International Space Station is solved with a logical resolution and the problem of returning to Earth is also solved (for some), and all of that is accomplished with skill. But (you knew there would be one), there really isn’t anything else to this comic. The issue moves from plot point to plot point with the obligatory “character moments” that aren’t at all original, and then it ends. It seems as if this comic accomplishes everything its creators set out to do and that lack of ambition is what holds it back.
It seems almost wrong to say that there isn’t anything actually wrong with a comic and then give it 2.5 stars, but the lack of ambition here really does hinder the enjoyment of the issue by making it totally forgettable. I read the issue shortly before beginning this review and I’m struggling to remember any specific details about it. The issue begins with the space shuttle docked at the space station being released, and a murderer on the station. Shortly thereafter, the murderer is discovered and everyone gets to work trying to make sure they don’t all die. Some people die, some people make it back to Earth and that’s about it. Beyond those broad plot points, I remember little about the comic aside from the final page.
On it, writer Johanna Stokes actually demonstrates some hint of ambition by delivering a short string of captions that try to capture the majesty and importance of space travel after the surviving astronauts cover up the murder of their colleague to save the program. However, instead of stirring the emotions of the reader, that page seems out of place and like a last-minute addition to try and make the comic rise above itself. It makes for an odd ending to a high concept murder mystery.
Leno Carvalho’s art shows promise, but often lacks detail or looks rushed. This is his first professional work and it shows. He struggles in spots to fit all of the characters into the cramped confines of the space station or loses backgrounds in some panels inexplicably. Despite these weaknesses, his facial expressions are very evocative and his compositions of pages are strong. His use of long vertical panels during the attempt to jump from the space station to the shuttle is particularly effective and demonstrates that he has a bright future.
However, Carvalho’s small flaws aren’t what hold “Station” back from being great. His art and Stokes’ writing are both competent and not very ambitious. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as it does make for an entertaining albeit forgettable read.