When I decided to review this title, I did so with some trepidation. This is “A Distant Soil” after all. A tale that is of legend both in story and with reality as everyone in the world of comics have heard the rumblings of this title. From the mind of Colleen Doran that began when she was 12 years old, this story has been praised for its amazing richness of texture and form. More like a Wagner Opera than your typical comic run, A Distant Soil follows the plight of Liana and Jason, two children of an alien expatriate that has disruptive powers that interferes (and potentially could destroy) the ruling party of power on his home planet called Ovanan. That’s about as far as I can go as this epic (the best description I can use) covers many years (in its making), many plot turns, and many powerful themes making it a monumental story embracing political intrigue, gender roles, religious values, and about every other deep topic that you can think of.
This was one of the first comics that had openly gay romantic leads, that demonstrated a manga influence (when comics simply didn’t do that), and that was 100% done (the writing, the drawing, the inking, everything) by Ms. Doran. About as epic as the story is, the making of and the drama in the real world could likewise be described as epic itself. The lawsuits over copyright, the complete rewrites by Doran and most recently the seven (yes seven) year delay of continuing publication due to lost negatives (before the glory days of digital copies). Just following the history lets you know that this a true project of passion with the scope as vast as the story itself.
With all negatives replaced, Image began the return of the story this year and they will be printing it through issue #50 which will bring to a close this amazing tale. I got to read #42 which is the first time that I have touched this work, hence the trepidation.
What I found within those pages of Issue #42 confirmed what I already knew about the history of the story …A Distant Soil is a complex work that like a puzzle, has many small pieces that must be put together in order to see the whole finished work. Coming in late to the game is like watching a show like Lost beginning with the last season. You will be lost (no pun intended).
With this understanding however, I must say that Collen Doran does not disappoint. The issue is only 18 pages, but she packs in those 18 pages more detail and story than I have seen in some title’s annuals. It is impressive. The artwork is likewise impressive. Lots of details as face close-ups are used to help convey feelings and emotion. The characters are well drawn and realistic making for good reading.
The plot is churning its way to the home stretch and this particular issue begins that track. Some serious happenings are going on that puts some characters into a bad spot. Only time will tell if consequences follow. I recommend this title, but would urge you to read the trade paperbacks before you start into the new releases. It will make for a much more pleasant read, and be far less intimidating.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Colleen Doran
Publisher: Image and Shadowline Comics
Sales Price: $3.50
Release Date: 10/30/2013