Review: Cluster #1
The launch for this series comes at an inopportune time. It tells the story of a group of convicts that are given a sentence as soldiers instead of facing their own prison time and it focuses on a group of female convicts who are led through the first days of their intake into the penal military force. The main character is established with a dark past, her budding friendship with another inmate threatens to shake the peace within the new group, and they already see military action (and death) by the end of the first issue. It contains elements of the space marines from Aliens as well as a Starship Troopers setup, battling aliens on foreign planets, but it does so in an intelligent way mixing in some hints of dystopia with the story line. What is unfortunate is that while this is an impressive first start to the series, is that many will probably slough it off, in comparison to the also recently released Bitch Planet from Image which has a similar setting and a similar dystopian theme in the background, and admittedly while Cluster is a good read, it is not as good as its rival.
It does happen at some times in popular culture that there is a sudden proliferation of what would otherwise be a niche theme. The idea of women being sent to a prison planet is actually a common enough theme in comics, common enough that it happened to Wonder Woman in 1992. While it is a setting and location which comes up in science fiction often enough, it has more than often been used in the exploitative sense, in that part of the appeal is to have somewhat vicious women squaring off against each other in a dangerous setting.
Inherently that is where this series excels. While it does aim for a share of action, it is not meant to be exploitative, but rather show strong female characters while also digging a bit deeper to look at the reach of the police state in Western countries, and what that might look like in the future. It is a compelling first look at this series, and it promises a lot for what is to come, regardless of its competition.
Story: Ed Brisson Art: Damian Couceiro
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Boom! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a free copy for review.