Story: Eric Heisserer
Art: Felipe Massafera
What They Say:
A galactic empire hunts a race of shape shifters prophesied to overthrow its rule. When orphaned teenager Spry discovers that he is one of the hunted—a Shaper—he must learn to use his newfound abilities to escape the empire’s prime enforcer, Tor Ajax, and save his entire race!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
While science fiction material isn’t all the rage, we’ve certainly gotten more of it in the last few years than we’ve had for some time in a number of areas and especially with creator owned comics. Which is a good thing because they’re finding a lot of great stories to tell and many are from my generation that grew up as science fiction really became mainstream and not goofy. With Shaper, the series is one that gives us some very appealing aspects to it right from the start with what it offers for potential for a solidly fun star spanning adventure that could be a good bit of space opera as well, which is even more under represented in the medium overall.
The series is one that takes place in some undetermined future where we’re introduced to a young man named Spry that’s about to graduate from his boarding school. Spry’s the rough and tumble kid that hasn’t fit in and isn’t interested in career day with what it may offer, but he’s fascinated with stories of Shapers out in the universe, people that can change their appearance and have been sought out and eradicated by the Caliphate for ages. Spry’s boss at the store he works at is a former soldier and tells him the tale of his tours where he’s convinced there haven’t been Shapers for ages and that those that are labeled as them are just agitators that needed to be put down by the Caliphate. We get an interesting tale of one at the start that’s hunted down, but it turns out to be a card game that people play which reinforces the fear of Shapers and what the represent, making it easier to keep the populace in control
Naturally, things go awry for Spry when career day goes poorly and then there’s an attack on the school when he returns later in the day, only to find that his headmistress Niva, or guidance counselor as it’s not clear, turns out to be a Shaper herself and the big man of the Caliphate, Tor Ajax, is there to get her himself. It’s chaotic and busy in a solid setup kind of way with Spry tossed aside, and his seeing her whisked off to a ship heading into space, but it gets crazier in a way as we learn that she’s his mother and that his father was supposed to be there to get him elsewhere as well. There’s a lot revealed in the final pages that feels like it should have been spread out more with a surprise or two along the way, but it’s loaded up enough here that we know some of what will drive Spry going forward as he’s now going to have to go up against and flee from the very thing that he’s spent years idolizing and mastering in a way.
Reading Shaper a few times, it definitely offers up a lot of potential with what it can do here and the opening issue, chaotic as it is in its structure in a few places, provides more than enough of a tease for fans of science fiction and space opera to check it out. There’s a potentially star spanning adventure here with an epic scale it can work and a lot of history that it can delve into, but it’s also all wrapped up in a young man that’s certainly not wise to the ways of the universe and that can always lead to problems. The story works well enough here overall, though the last few pages are far busier and more revelatory than I think is necessary, and it’s paired with some solid artwork that can really explore this world it wants to reveal in a very good way. There’s some great designs here and interesting approaches to aliens and ships that alone has me hopeful for something fun. I’m cautiously optimistic to see where it’ll be going.
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 18th, 2015