Who doesn’t like science fiction? I’m 100% seriously asking. It has it all: robots, cool moral dilemmas, scientific advancements beyond our understanding, cyborgs, space and time travel, artificial intelligence, and more. With that, it’s easy to combine it with other genres, such as romance and action. And it’s relevant: with technology developing daily, we look at science fiction work as maps showing us the roads and cautionary tales telling us where not to go. That’s why it’s a genre that has yet to lose traction; if anything, the passing of time has made it snowball into one of the bases of storytelling.
Combining sci-fi with other tropes of storytelling enriches the genre, taking it to a whole new level. In this case, a rivalry between the protagonists. Naruto and Sasuke. Yugi and Kaiba. Goku and Vegeta. Captain America and Iron Man. Besides showing I watched too many anime as a kid, these are examples of frenemies: two powerful, complex, and different characters who have a complicated friendship and allow the creator to explore two sides of perhaps the same coin. Nothing was more epic than seeing the two protagonists face each other, as you had no idea who would come up on top.
John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: The Envoy #1 by David J. Schow, Andres Esparza, Oscar Carreño, Montse Esparza, and Janice Chiang, created by movie industry legends John Carpenter and Sandy King, is a science fiction story with two frenemies as protagonists.
Ben Raines is a man of science who lost his wife to cancer and now spends all of his life as a loner looking to make contact with the dead. Steven Allard is another man of science looking to push the boundaries of life by curing diseases such as cancer and founded a billion-dollar corporation to accomplish his dreams. These couple of former college best friends need each other to achieve their dreams.
Ben and Steven’s opposite identities allow the creators to explore relevant modern-day issues, such as the relationship between capitalism and science, and fictional ones, such as contacting aliens or ghosts. They are three-dimensional and relatable in their own way, and you can root for both. No one is right or wrong, which gives us a promising start for this relationship.
In addition, the art enhances the characters, focusing on their expressions and body language to help us know them better. Ben is an introvert who analyzes everything in his surroundings, while Steven is an extrovert who convinces people by speaking graciously. Moreso, the colors are beautiful, immersing the reader in the book’s atmosphere, for example, in Ben’s underground lab and Steven’s secret lab.
It is an excellent book for first readers, as it presents an outstanding balance between an established genre and tropes and fresh themes and new characters. I discussed the protagonists, but there is an assembly of supporting characters that, at first sight, seem exciting and promise to complement the story and the protagonist’s adventures.
To conclude, the John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: The Envoy #1 dives into classic science fiction to bring us a compelling and fun story with the possibility of outer-world contact, both interplanetary and from another plane. At its core, it will make you fall in love with either Ben or Steven and leave you wanting more of this fantastic duo and their adventures chasing ghosts and aliens.