The Bigger Bang is in its homestretch now, and while it continues to be a space opera romp that’s enjoyable to read, it’s managed to lose much of what made it unique in its first issue. Whereas early issues felt surprising in its tone, and its approach to story about super beings IN SPACE, this issue sees Cosmos and Wyan falling into roles we’ve seen time and time again, only here we view it courtesy of Vassilis Gogtzilas’ continuously captivating sketch style, a style that oozes atmosphere in each panel while maintaining narrative clarity. In this issue, we join Cosmos and Wyan as they meet King Thulu who has hatched a scheme to convert Cosmos into his puppet to expand his galactic empire. Thulu, excuse me, KING Thulu attempts to do this through a mixture of sucking up to Cosmos in eye-rolling fashion, and taking advantage of the latter’s heroic impulses, sending Cosmos off to prevent an asteroid from colliding with an inhabited planet and then using propaganda to convince people who Cosmos was acting under the King’s orders. Following this save, Cosmos believes he has finally been accepted by other beings only to find out that Thulu’s citizens faked that acceptance under the king’s orders.
The mopefest that occurs as a result of this reveal doesn’t stop a bummer Cosmos from doing what he does best (anything, and in this case, absorbing solar energy) in order to prevent a star from going supernova. While a visually stunning scene that zooms in tightly on a struggling Cosmos, DJ Kirkbride has given us little reason to think that Cosmos is in any actual peril, especially since he set the bar so high for Cosmos’ power limits with that space whale delivery in the first issue.
I’ll give Kirkbride the benefit of the doubt that physical peril isn’t where the conflict of this book is though. The real emotional heart of this lies in whether or not a super being like Cosmos can learn to forgive both himself and those who he cares about for the harm they’ve caused. The ending of this issue gives further support to that reading since the cliffhanger doesn’t put an enemy combatant in Cosmos’ way, despite King Thulu’s vast robot army, but instead puts him in a position where he has to decide whether he can forgive the actions of a person who’s remorseful for having caused the deaths of millions.
Kirkbride’s retro narration is really where the script gets it right, managing a tone that’s both intimate and vast. I love the level of camp Kirkbride attains by pairing the narration with Gogtzilas’ darker palette, underscoring moments of fancy space flight with bits such as “The energy between them isn’t just Cosmos’ power,” narration so wrapped up in the emotional drama of its leads that it becomes difficult to disentangle yourself from their relationship even when it gets sappy.
Despite not enjoying this comic less with issue, I’m still captivated by the world these two creators have invented. With no concern for Warren Ellis style sci-fi realism, Kirkbride and Gogtzilas allow their characters play in space the way we once envisioned we could as children. There’s enough going on in the world that’s more real than it ought to be, and while the emotional turmoil in The Bigger Bang has its Earthly counterpart, I have little doubt that things will turn out well for Cosmos, and that certainty is just, well, nice for a change.
Writer: DJ Kirkbride Artist: Vassilis Gogtzilas Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 1/21/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital