I’m not sure how much more I can realistically put over Space Riders without sounding like I’m getting paid for it. Having now written two reviews, each riddled with abject praise, it should suffice to say here that it is one of my favorite books on the market, and that if you’re missing it, you should feel bad, because you’re doing it wrong. With that in mind, this third issue, while towing the series line of being fucking spectacular, does have its flubs, and illustrates some overall pacing issues, but nothing that in any way halts Space Riders from being a contender for one of 2015’s breakout comic book greats. This time, the swarthy Capitan Peligro and his crew, the robotic astronautic Yara and the devout baBOOM Mono, are redirected onto a more dedicated path; one which will lead them to, as the title of the issue implies, the legendary “Tomb of the Space Gods.” Along the way, they must use all the weapons at their disposal -- which include, but are not limited to: cunning, guns, courage and radiant nippular discharge -- to not just discover the graveyard of felled cosmic deities, but battle enemies past, present and even familial.
As has been standard since the inception of this truly fantastic Black Mask book, Space Riders #3 continues the book’s kooky, nostalgic, SUPER FUCKING METAL run. This is the sequential art equivalent of an acid flashback; a velvet painting of dollar store action figure knockoffs drizzled in hallucinogens and thrown down a hallway of black lights. More than anything, it’s a really fun comic book that never once takes itself seriously, but fully commits itself to a bonkers, 100% fulfilling reading experience. Saying that, I do think it will resound more with people of a certain age; i.e., mine.
Both Rangel’s terse, ostensibly basic dialogue and Ziritt’s “technically unsound” artwork comes filtered through a thick anachronism; even the pages themselves are washed out in the wear and weather of a bygone age. As such, Space Riders is the bastard child of another time, sent down the river of time and found screeching in the reeds of today. I’m not saying it will lead us to a new promised land of comics with that reference, but in an industry that feigns looking nonchalant while simultaneously hammering home some or another point, it is a refreshing voice that shuns a semi-soulful tune and shrieks into the mic with such vim.
I was born during, or maybe slightly after the time when books like this would have accompanied toys as free giveaways (though less rife, perhaps, with profanity), and I’m not too far off from the halcyon Heavy Metal psychedelia to which it pays another sort of homage. But if you aren’t from that era, or don’t have an appreciation for its insane art and batshit crazy storytelling, you might not dig it. Which, of course, is your fucking loss.
The rest of us will happily feast on the gnarly, nightmare-laced, liquid laser visuals of this book and the goofily stilted, but otherwise well-paced writing. Sure, this issue is leaden with an info dump or two, and it is only here -- in the penultimate issue -- when we get a clear idea of the titular Riders’ mission, but Space Riders is a thing that quite happily bucks the classic narrative by being a fun exploration of the moment, rather than a laborious slump towards Purpose.
I look forward to reading this book every single damn time it drops, and while next issue will be its last (hopefully not ever), I’m excited to see how Space Riders will end; not to mention how it will look as a trade, hopefully with a decent collection of concept art and a comprehensive list of the drugs these guys are taking.