Seeing the name of writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino together in a cover has become a kind of guarantee. Known for collaborations like Green Arrow, Gideon Falls, and Joker: Killer Smile, this comic book duo have published some of the most successful recent comics, winning multiple Eisners for Gideon Falls.
In their new project, Primordial, Lemire and Sorrentino bring us a sci-fi thriller set in the midst of the Cold War where a scientist from MIT is asked to help dismantle the American space program. But why is the space program being dismantled? What has stopped humans from looking to the stars? But most important of all: What ever happened to the animals we sent to space during the space race? Did they die in orbit? And if they didn’t… where did they go?
In their first issue, Lemire and Sorrentino use this somewhat simple premise to set up an intriguing mystery that captures the essence of the Cold War, starting by utilizing the setting of the story the best way they can. The creative team combines the drama and tension of the Cold War, and the wonder and weirdness of the Space Race to create the perfect atmosphere for a mystery of cosmic proportions.
This is not the only time the creative team uses contrast to their advantage. Through different moments in the issue small panels are contrasted with full page spreads highlighting important details while still letting us see the full picture, this layouts lead to some heart racing scenes and helps to deepen the mystery. In addition, colorist David Stewart uses colors in brilliant ways, using pale colors for the earth scenes and vibrant colors for the space scenes. It makes the cosmic scenes stand out, and helps drive the reader’s interest in the mystery at hand.
Like in some of his past work, Sorrentino plays with the line of realism and surrealism with his art, drawing a pretty good parallel between what is known and the unknown. One of the best things in the issue is seeing Sorrentino’s art change until it reaches a point at the end where the contrast between the beginning and the end is huge, creating a perfect set up through the art itself.
Lemire uses characters and dialogue in a similar way, contrasting entirely different people in a way that makes the reader know what kind of person they’re dealing with, not just by what they are saying, but the way they are saying it. These archetypes fit perfectly into the setting, making mind-bending sci-fi feel more real, as well as the tension.
If the Cold War was a time of parallels and division, Lemire and Sorrentino capture this essence and transform them into the beginning of a new and fascinating mystery. It’s in this way and many others, Lemire, Sorrentino and the rest of the team create a first issue that captures the reader and pulls them into a mystery that will make them wonder: Why did we stop traveling to the stars?