A red ozone blankets a scientifically advanced planet as aliens in gas masks loiter across the street. A class with touch screen supercomputers facilitate young and eager students as the professor orates about stars and the individual’s minuscule role in correlation to them. A grocery store houses products solely crafted through chemistry. This is but a taste of the stimulating thematic imagery at play in Black Speck, written by L.W. Allen and illustrated by Claudio Munoz.
It is an outer space-woven tale of exploration versus confinement, nature versus artificial and scientific advancement versus preservation. The champion spearheading this change is Tumunos, a student at an academy on ‘Prawde,’ his home planet. A young prodigy in all things astronomy, Tumunos is ambitious and adventurous in spirit. He is scholarly rebellious (sneaking out at night to read books not taught in school) which sows discord between him and Headmaster Tesuk, a stern disciplinarian.
What’s fascinating about this young man is his unyielding gall; no one can halt his tenacity. Whereas his peers are content to attend class and commune afterwards in leisure, Tumunos thirsts for interplanetary travel.
There are some faculty the young protagonist admires, Master Remenin, his astronomy teacher, being one. She is an encouraging professor who assures him he’s “destined for great things.” Not much is known of this instructor outside of the classroom. Allen does a remarkable job of withholding her true motives. By the end of this issue, readers will wonder what her agenda could be.
Tumunos has a few other friends, including Thotus and his lovely daughter, Thorus. The two run a harvester shop (equivalent to a grocery store). Thotus longs for the days before science trumped agriculture; having a farm with cattle would be his ideal life. Even as a supporting character, his role bears significance because he’s the only other besides the story’s hero who desires a deviation from their culture’s norm.
Complementing the clever plot are the illustrations pencilled by Munoz and colored by Allen. The humanoids are caricatures ornamented in striking tints, including dark pastel green, lavender pink, carmine red and atomic tangerine to name a few.
The aliens have different skin pigments, too. Tumunos has a tan tone while Master Remenin is indigo blue. Headmaster Tesuk is depicted in vermillion red, an appropriate hue given his gruff demeanor. Thotus is celestial blue and Thorus is hot pink. The teamwork by Munoz and Allen is a wondrous thing. The mannerisms and facial expressions are lifelike even in caricature form. All of the colors coincide with their occupant’s personality.
The text bubbles lend additional realistic expression to the comic; certain words are printed in bold to display the sarcasm of Tumunos and the strictness of Headmaster Tesuk. The narration is concise and easy to follow, making this an accessible piece of literature for all.
As a science fiction and adventure enthusiast, I found this comic to be quite enjoyable. Having a mysterious figure who resembled Norrin Radd (Silver Surfer) allotted it extra accolades. Black Speck is a three-part miniseries published by Dance Panda Comics and is available at Deep Comics & Games.