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In two weeks I'll be in Brooklyn Heights, NY for an academic conference called Graphic Justice Discussions 2018, where I'm presenting my research on the Image Comic series Chew (2009-2016). Although I'm obviously excited to talk about one of my all-time favorite comics AND to visit NYC for the very first time, I'm equally excited that the conference keynote is Ann Nocenti (comics author, filmmaker, and all-around cool human). In preparation for the conference, I decided to read the first two issues of Nocenti's new limited series The Seeds (with artist David Aja, editor Karen Berger, published by Dark Horse Comics).
The Seeds is a four part story, with the last two issues slated to be released (hopefully) over the next few months (issue 2 just dropped on September 12th, and I couldn't find a specific release date for issue 3 in my brief online search). The series takes place on what one can assume is a near-future Earth where environmental catastrophe and technological over-saturation have led to a "splitting" into zones A and B, which are separated by a wall surveilled by security forces. "Zone B" is where the "luddites" live - it is supposedly a tech-free area, although it is quickly revealed that with the right sort of bribe money the border guards are willing to turn a blind eye to tech-smugglers. Against this backdrop, multiple stories are woven together: we have an investigative reporter (Astra) who crosses into Zone B in search of a scoop; there is an alien named Race, and his human lover, Lola; there is also a farmer and his (presumably) wife, who seem at this point to be narratively disconnected from the rest of the plot. [SPOILERS AHEAD]
Although the entirety of the plot hasn't been laid bare by the end of issue #2, the central issue seems to be that "seed collector" aliens have been sent to Earth to collect samples of organic matter because the planet has been declared "doomed." Race, a more sensitive member of the collectors, develops a relationship with a human woman (Lola) and rather than "collecting" seeds from her, "plants" his own (you can probably gather what that means). After seeing Lola and Race together, Astra follows them into Zone B, hoping to find a world-changing "scoop" there. Travelling alone, she is captured (and nearly killed) by the other seed collectors, and this is basically where we leave off issue #2.
So, I'll start with the good stuff: the art is equal parts beautiful and unsettling. Aja has a strong hand for the sort of uncanny, swarming, diseased landscapes and bio-matter that is the subject of the series. The monochromatic colors add to the noir-ish feel and overall depressing mood of the series. On a thematic level, I appreciate Nocenti's intricate weaving of multiple stories, perspectives, and concerns. So far, The Seeds is an incisive critique of fake news, environmental catastrophe, anthropocentrism, technology addiction, and human apathy in the face of mass extinction.
My big concern is that another two issues won't be enough space to fully explore those issues and that they will become the backdrop rather than the driving force of the story being told. I hope that I'm wrong and that Nocenti and Aja pull this off, but I'd really love to see something like The Seeds as an ongoing series rather than a 4 issue mini-series. That being said, I do think that so far the series shows great promise and is probing into some really interesting questions. I'm looking forward to reading more, and I hope that I get the chance to ask Nocenti about the plans for the series in person in just a few weeks!
The Seeds is available to purchase on Comixology (or to read for free with a Comixology Unlimited subscription).
Friday, October 12th